Northamptonshire’s bowlers worked hard without reward as Middlesex worked their way into a lead late on Day 3.

Teenage opener Nathan Fernandes became Middlesex’s youngest debut centurion in first-class cricket since 1862 as the visitors piled on runs in their Vitality County Championship clash against Northamptonshire.

Left-hander Fernandes, drafted in to replace the injured Sam Robson at the top of the order, hit 103 before team-mates Max Holden and Leus du Plooy both plundered the bowling at Wantage Road, steering the visitors to 553 for two at stumps.

Fernandes, who turns 20 later this month, was the first Middlesex player to mark his first-class debut with a ton since Ted Clark in 1959 and the youngest since Isaac Walker achieved the feat against Surrey almost 100 years earlier.

Northamptonshire’s bowlers toiled gamely in the batting-friendly conditions, but they were put to the sword by Holden – who passed 200 for the first time in his career – and Du Plooy, just four short of his own double century at the close.

It took Fernandes until the sixth over of the morning to increase his overnight score of 65, but the teenager then settled into his stride with a series of classy strokes on either side of the wicket.

Fernandes was particularly strong outside off stump, cutting the seamers to the boundary and also delved into his bag of white-ball shots to dab Chris Tremain over the slips for four as he progressed towards his hundred.

That cherished moment arrived when Fernandes pulled a Rob Keogh long hop to the fence, taking him to exactly 100 from 208 deliveries and confirming him as Middlesex’s first debut centurion in first-class cricket for 65 years.

However, the opener was on his way soon afterwards, mistiming his attempt to paddle a slow bouncer from Luke Procter that ballooned up to give wicketkeeper Lewis McManus a routine catch.

The Northamptonshire skipper’s strike ended a partnership that had yielded 170, but Holden continued to accumulate runs, displaying greater attacking intent after lunch in tandem with Du Plooy.

Ben Sanderson did get the new ball to whistle just past Holden’s outside edge, but the left-hander remained composed and punched the first delivery of his next over across the off-side rope to move into three figures for the first time in red-ball cricket since 2018.

It was Du Plooy who took control of the innings, twice hammering Sanderson over long on for six and stroking a boundary to third man off Tremain to register his half-century as the Seaxes pressed the accelerator.

They secured a third batting bonus point just before the tea interval, with Du Plooy crashing four and then another straight six from successive Raphy Weatherall deliveries to complete his first Middlesex hundred in just 112 balls.

While Holden and Du Plooy declined to have a tilt at a further bonus point prior to the cut-off, their continued presence at the crease denied Northamptonshire any bowling points at all.

The pair matched each other almost stride for stride during the final session, breaking the county’s record partnership against Northamptonshire in the process and Holden was first to his double hundred, driving Saif Zaib to the midwicket boundary.

He finished on 211 not out, with Du Plooy on 196 to leave Middlesex one run ahead of their hosts’ 552 for six declared.