Middlesex’s unbeaten record in this season’s LV= County Championship Division One is under severe threat after Yorkshire seamers Steven Patterson and Liam Plunkett took four wickets apiece to bowl them out for 175 at Lord’s and force the follow-on.
The hosts struggled to 137 for four second time around by stumps on day three, still 78 runs behind Yorkshire, who have taken a firm grip on the match since posting 390 in their first innings.
Leg-spinner Adil Rashid, pictured with Plunkett below, was not needed to bowl at all as Patterson, Plunkett and Ryan Sidebottom shared Middlesex’s first-innings wickets, but took 3-51 in the final session to keep the second-placed White Rose on course for the victory which would put them on top of the Division One table.
Sidebottom, who earlier removed Joe Denly and James Harris, struck a massive blow at the start of the Middlesex second innings by having Chris Rogers caught behind for a duck with the fifth ball of his opening over.
Home captain Rogers, playing his last championship match before joining up with Australia’s Ashes squad towards the end of June, drove loosely at a jubilant Sidebottom and thin-edged to Andrew Hodd.
It was the second time in the day that Hodd claimed a Rogers edge, the first catch a brilliant low diving effort to send back the left-hander for 27 and give Plunkett his first success in an excellent bowling effort that returned figures of 4-50.
Third-placed Middlesex, who resumed on 16 for one, lost Denly to a superb catch at third slip by Joe Sayers before a 25-minute break for rain and bad light early in the morning session, and then Rogers soon afterwards.
Neil Dexter was leg-before to Patterson for 11 and Middlesex’s slide continued when Plunkett, working up a good pace from the Pavilion End, yorked John Simpson for nine.
Adam London’s dismissal for 28, smartly held by Sayers in the slip cordon after Plunkett switched to around the wicket against the left-hander, left Middlesex on 105 for six and it quickly became 113 for seven when the former Durham man had Ollie Rayner lbw for two as he aimed to midwicket.
Gareth Berg provided the only lower order resistance with a spirited 54 from 69 balls but he had already seen Harris trapped on the crease by a Sidebottom in-swinger when he was himself adjudged leg-before attempting to whip a ball from Patterson wide of mid-on.
Patterson then had last man Corey Collymore taken by Hodd to finish with 4-39 and take his championship wicket tally for the season to 24.
Rashid’s wickets in the last session, during a lengthy and consistently probing 18-over spell from the Nursery End, completed a fine day’s work for Yorkshire.
Denly was stumped by Hodd for 31 as he was drawn forward by a well-flighted leg-break and, beaten by the turn, dragged his back foot out of his crease just enough for the wicketkeeper to pounce.
He and Sam Robson added 69 in 22 overs but hopes of a Middlesex revival received a body blow as Robson was bowled for 46, trying to pull a short ball from Rashid, and London lbw playing back.
Dexter and Simpson, with 25 and 20 respectively in an unbroken stand of 44, at least saw things through to the close, but Middlesex face a stiff task on the final day if they are to escape with a draw.