Lancashire v Middlesex: Champions on brink of defeat at Southport
|Specsavers County Championship Division One, Trafalgar Road (day three):|
|Middlesex 180 & 156-6: Malan 45*, Robson 42; Parry 3-40|
|Lancashire 309: McLaren 75, Bailey 58; Murtagh 6-63, Harris 4-119|
|Middlesex lead Lancashire by 27 runs with 4 wickets remaining|
|Lancashire 6 pts, Middlesex 3 pts|
County champions Middlesex are on the verge of a first Championship loss for 21 months in their Division One game against Lancashire at Southport.
Middlesex ended day three on 156-6 in their second innings, ahead by only 27.
Stephen Parry (3-40) boosted the home side's hopes of victory.
Lancashire's bowlers took momentum from a ninth-wicket stand of 87 between Ryan McLaren (75) and Tom Bailey (58) which pushed Lancashire's first-innings total to 309 all out - a lead of 129 runs.
After day two had been washed out, the game had looked finely poised on the third morning when Tim Murtagh (6-63) made further inroads into Lancashire's batting line-up to leave the home side on 136-6.
But McLaren and Bailey, who hit six fours and two sixes in a career-best batting display, came together to forge a handy advantage.
Opener Nick Gubbins fell cheaply at the start of Middlesex's second innings, but Sam Robson (42) and Stevie Eskinazi (34) were going well until a collapse of five wickets for 46 runs tilted the match in Lancashire's favour.
Much will depend on Dawid Malan (45 not out) and James Harris (15 not out) if Middlesex are to avoid a first Championship defeat since losing at Worcestershire by an innings in September 2015.