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Leaders hold firm at Southport

Half-centuries by Luis Reece, Ashwell Prince and Luke Procter helped Lancashire make solid progress on a fluctuating first day of their LV= County Championship Division Two match against Hampshire at Southport.

Glen Chapple's side were 296 for eight at stumps, Procter unbeaten on 65 having recorded his fifth successive four-day fifty.

However, Lancashire's batsmen were made to work hard by a persevering Hampshire attack including 16-year-old off-spinner Brad Taylor, who became the youngest player ever to represent the county in the championship.

Left-arm seamer James Tomlinson, who was selected in preference to Hamza Riazuddin, finished with 3-56 off 23 overs.

Only in the last hour or so before lunch, when 109 runs were scored off 19 overs, was batting made to look straightforward business as Prince and Reece milked the visiting attack.

Prior to their second-wicket partnership of 120, 24 runs had been scored off the opening 14 overs of the match.

The same number were garnered off the 17 overs after the first interval, as Andrea Agathangelou and Steven Croft sought to rebuild the innings following the departures of Prince and Reece, for 63 and 50 respectively, either side of lunch.

Croft was ultimately caught by Michael Roberts at short-leg off Liam Dawson for nine and Agathangelou followed three overs later for 30 when he could only fend Matt Coles to James Vince at third slip.

Jimmy Adams' attack maintained their stranglehold for the remainder of the afternoon session despite the outground's short boundaries and fast outfield.

After tea Tom Smith's watchful 28 off 55 balls was ended when he pulled Dawson straight to Vince at midwicket, but Gareth Cross supplied some late aggression when hitting Tomlinson for four successive boundaries just after Hampshire had taken the new ball.

The wicketkeeper-batsman's cameo ended on 26 as he limply edged Tomlinson to Sean Ervine at first slip, giving the seamer a deserved third wicket.

Debutant Matt Coles bowled a hostile second spell in the afternoon session and slow left-armer Dawson claimed 2-50 in 16 reasonably tight overs.

Hampshire also managed the rare feat of bowling 97 overs in six hours of cricket but, with Procter still at the crease, Lancashire still had an outside chance of claiming four batting points.

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