All-rounder Joe Leach believes runs from the lower order have been a key factor in Worcestershire's success this season.

Leach top-scored with 71 as Worcestershire recovered from 169-5 to reach 385 all out on the third day of the LV = County Championship clash with Derbyshire at Derby.

It earned them an unlikely first innings advantage of 29 before Derbysire reached 145-2 by the close and a lead of 116.

Shaaiq Choudhry (44), Jack Shantry (37) and Mitchell McClenaghan (27) all made valuable contributions on a wicket still offering assistance to the bowlers despite the sunnier conditions than were evident on the first two days.

Leach, who shared a stand of 117 with Choudhry, told BBC Hereford-Worcester's Dave Bradley: "It was hard graft, probably not as much as the second day when it was really tough, but the first hour it did a fair amount.

"Fair play to Chouds and that partnership there was crucial and the lads down the order also did a really top job.

"To get ahead of them from where we were was a fantastic effort and shows the fighting qualities of this year.

"They could have been in an unassailable position and we needed to make sure we were still in the game.

"We've done better than that and gone past them which is a really top effort on that pitch."

Leach added: "It's a big thing, lower order runs, I think you have seen that all year.

"More often than not, the teams that do well are the ones that contribute down the order.

"These boys at Derbyshire did it a couple of years ago when they got promoted and we are certainly doing it this year.

"It makes a decent score, a very good score. In the past, we might have been 60, 70 behind but to get ahead of them was a fantastic effort.

"All credit to the likes of Chouds, that was a brilliant knock, Mitchell McClenaghan, Shants and even Moz (Charlie Morris )at the end. Those runs are invaluable."

Leach believes Worcestershire can still force a win on what he described as "a really good cricket pitch."

He said: "Yesterday it was dark and cloudy all day and the ball nipped around and moved sideways a lot more than today.

"I got a ball in the first over which flew over my head and one which bounced over the keeper's head.

"I'm surprised there hasn't been more variable bounce but it is still there and if you get the ball in the right area, hopefully we can exploit that in the morning.

"What a cricket pitch it is. There is something in it for the bowler if you bowl it in the right area.

"Not many of the bowlers in this game have consistently stacked it and for batters it is really tough. But if they bowl badly, you can cash in on that so it is a really good cricket pitch.

"If we have a good half hour, hour in the morning or a mad session, there is every chance we can win this game and I'm sure all the lads believe that.

"If wickets don't come, the main thing for us is to keep them dry (of runs). As long as we don't put them in a position where they can win the game or make it as unlikely as we can, that can only help us."