A determined century from Ashwell Prince was not enough to prevent Lancashire slipping to defeat on their return to Division One of the LV= County Championship.
The former South Africa batsman’s doggedness put the Red Rose, last year’s Division Two champions, in with a chance of an unlikely victory against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge only to ultimately lose by 45 runs.
Chasing a victory target of 349 the visitors resumed on seven for one with batting out the final day for a draw uppermost in their minds.
However, Prince’s third century in four innings for the county against the side he spent two months with at the back-end of the 2008 season raised the possibility of them sneaking home.
The left-hander hit exactly 100 in 181 balls over the course of four hours but could not get his team over the line and was last man out on 303.
Together with Tom Smith he shared the best stand of the match, putting on 147 for the seventh wicket as he looked like making Nottinghamshire pay for twice missing opportunities to remove him early on.
Wicketkeeper Chris Read could not effect a difficult stumping chance off Samit Patel when Prince had made just six while Jake Ball dropped him at mid-off from the bowling of Andy Carter after lunch.
Smith provided the ideal foil with 76 off 118 deliveries, including 13 fours, during the afternoon session as Lancashire looked like turning around a disappointing morning which had seen them slip to 99 for five at lunch.
Requiring 250 in two sessions wicketkeeper Alex Davies set the tone by pulling the first delivery after the interval for four and drove the third to the extra cover fence.
However, he edged Harry Gurney, who finished with four for 81, to Read although that resulted in the visitors’ most productive spell.
How Nottinghamshire could have done with the services of their watching overseas player Peter Siddle, the Australia seamer who arrived in the country late after visa problems, as they struggled to break the partnership.
Lancashire resumed after tea requiring 131 from 35 overs with Prince and Smith well set but it was the taking of the second new ball at 4.30pm which sparked a late turnaround in the host’s fortunes.
Smith was out second delivery with Luke Fletcher inducing an edge to Riki Wessels at slip and new batsman Wayne White departed lbw to the same bowler.
When Kabir Ali clipped Gurney to Alex Hales at square leg the game was almost up but Prince was not done just yet and after whipping Carter over the midwicket fence from outside off stump to move to 99 he duly completed his century.
But it was a similar attempt, moving across his wicket, against Gurney which took out his leg stump and ended proceedings.
Earlier in the day nightwatchman Simon Kerrigan (33) had put on 70 with Paul Horton (41) before the introduction of slow left-armer Samit Patel produced two wickets to hasten Lancashire’s demise.