Alex Thomson claimed four wickets, but Derbyshire were unable to convert a strong position into victory against Gloucestershire at Seat Unique Stadium.
After bowling their opponents out for 403 from an overnight 398 for nine, the hosts had slipped to 131 for six in their second innings, a precarious lead of 105, when 22-year-old Ed Middleton walked out to join skipper Graeme van Buuren.
Together the pair snuffed out any hope of a Derbyshire victory, Middleton making 39 and van Buuren 48 in an unbroken stand of 77 that saw their side to 208 for six at the close. Off-spinner Alex Thomson finished with four for 79.
The result left both teams without a Championship win this season. They had to settle for 11 points apiece from a largely forgettable encounter.
A draw looked long odds-on favourite at the start of play, with Derbyshire leading by 21 with only one first innings wicket hand. They were able to add just five runs before last man Pat Brown fell leg before to Zafar Gohar.
Skipper Leus du Plooy was left unbeaten on 108, having taken his Championship run tally for the season to 1,160 at an average of 89.23, while Gohar’s wicket gave him figures of five for 122.
The pitch had offered little assistance to the seamers all match and there were few problems for Gloucestershire openers Chris Dent and Ben Charlesworth in taking the second innings score to 31 in ten overs before Derbyshire turned to spin in the shape of left-armer Mark Watt.
The hosts looked intent on batting out the day and the stand had been extended to 68 before Charlesworth was bowled by Watt for 27 attempting a reverse sweep. Gloucestershire suffered another setback from the last ball before lunch when James Bracey, on eight, pushed forward to Thomson and edged to Wayne Madsen at first slip.
At 83 for two, the home side were 57 ahead. The third ball after the interval saw Chris Dent, who had played well for his 38, bowled between bat and pad by Watt with a ball that turned from outside the left-hander’s off stump.
Derbyshire sensed an opportunity. Miles Hammond had made only 12 when well caught low down by Harry Came at second slip off Thomson. And when first innings centurion Ollie Price became the second Gloucestershire player to be dismissed reverse sweeping, top edging a catch to short leg via a deflection off wicketkeeper Brooke Guest, the scoreboard read 111 for five.
That became 131 for six when Zafar Gohar swept a comfortable catch to Pat Brown at backward square to give Thomson his fourth wicket and Gloucestershire were in danger of self-destructing. They led by only 105 with a possible 43 overs left in the day’s play.
Fortunately for the hosts, 22-year-old Middleton was ready to adopt a more textbook approach to trying to save the game against a turning ball, taking few risks and producing the shot of the day with a straight driven boundary off seamer Brown.
By tea, he and van Buuren had taken the total to 169 for six and, while not entirely out of the wood, Gloucestershire led by a more healthy 143 with 32 overs remaining. A shortened final session saw the pair able to play with more freedom in bright sunshine.
By the time the players shook hands at 4.20pm, van Buuren had led from the front, facing 100 balls and hitting 6 fours, while Exeter-born Middleton emerged with equal credit from a 91-ball innings also featuring six boundaries.
Ultimately, the only winner was a largely docile pitch that made it a tough four days for bowlers on both sides in what was often energy-sapping heat.
Derbyshire Head of Cricket, Mickey Arthur, said: “There was enough in the pitch for us not to think about a contrived finish, which I don’t believe in anyway.
“For a period this afternoon I thought we were going to end up chasing 120 or 130, which would have made for a good finish.
“It was always going to need just one partnership to take that prospect away from us and credit the two Gloucestershire lads for sticking in there.
“I’m very proud of how we played this week. The belief in our dressing room was really good and we were looking to force a positive result all the time.
“Leus du Plooy was again outstanding, as was Anuj Dal in setting up the possibility of a win for us. Today our spinners bowled well and there a lot of supporting acts along the way.
“We leave here pretty happy. I hate talking about next season all the time, but it is a project. Pat Brown will get better and be a massive asset for us. With other additions, we will have a strong squad.”