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Struggling Northants on the brink

Highlights from day three at Wantage Road

Defeat number nine in the LV= County Championship is looming for Northamptonshire against Somerset at Wantage Road. 

Going into the final day with the score on 108 for five, the equation reads 296 for victory with half of their second-innings wickets in hand.

A draw is not an impossibility but given the home side's fortunes with the bat this season it is highly unlikely.

The morning session belonged to the visitors, who cruised along without feeling the need to press the accelerator.

James Hildreth and Chris Jones progressed without alarm at three an over, so it came as a surprise when the former presented James Middlebrook with a return catch shortly before lunch.

Despite that, Somerset led by 318 and they moved this along at a similar rate in the afternoon as they approached their intended target.

Northants gained some reward for their stint as they picked up wickets at a consistent rate, with Mohammad Azharullah dismissing Peter Trego and Craig Overton in quick succession and Middlebrook seeing off Jones 13 shy of what would have been a maiden championship century when he played across the line.

Somerset celebrate the dismissal of Northants opener James Middlebrook, the first of two second-innings scalps for seamer Lewis Gregory

The off-spinner took his third wicket as Alfonso Thomas lofted to square-leg, leaving Lewis Gregory and George Dockrell to push the lead beyond the 400-mark before the declaration arrived.

That left Northants needing to score 404 - more than they have made at any stage this season - in a minimum of 135 overs and they made a solid enough start.

Middlebrook - in partnership with James Kettleborough - took the score to 40 when Gregory, in identical fashion to the first innings, had the former caught at the wicket.

Richard Levi departed in the same way to the next ball and although Rob Newton survived the hat-trick delivery, he did not last too much longer as he dragged on attempting to cut Thomas.

Matt Spreigel failed to open his account before a back foot force off Thomas ended in Hildreth's hands at first slip but there was some good news as Kettleborough reached a half century with his 11th boundary.

He was dropped by Hildreth off Thomas a couple of overs later and only added a single before he became Dockrell’s first wicket of the game when he was taken at short-leg.

That forced Northants to send in Olly Stone as nightwatchman and he, along with Kyle Coetzer, managed to prevent any further mishaps before the end of the day.

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