Somerset v Middlesex: Visitors dig in to preserve hopes of draw
|LV= County Championship Division One, Taunton|
|Close, day three: Somerset 523-9 dec v Middlesex 223 & 140-1|
|Somerset 6pts, Middlesex 2pts|
Middlesex produced an improved batting performance to give themselves a chance of avoiding defeat by Somerset.
Eoin Morgan (82) and Toby Roland-Jones (77) put on 130 for the eighth wicket to earn their side a batting point.
The pair fell in successive overs as Middlesex were all out for 223 and asked to follow on, 300 runs behind.
Sam Robson fell cheaply for the second time in the match but Chris Rogers (97) and Dawid Malan (34) saw the visitors through to stumps on 140-1.
Skipper Rogers struck 16 boundaries in their unbroken stand of 126 and will look for his fourth Championship hundred of the summer on the final morning.
|If Middlesex achieve a draw at Taunton, they will go into next week's relegation decider against Lancashire with a 19-point lead over their opponents. If they lose, their advantage will be 14 points.|
With a relegation decider against second-from-bottom Lancashire looming next week, Middlesex resumed in dire straits on 64-7.
However, Morgan and Roland-Jones kept the home attack at bay throughout the morning session on their way to beating the previous eighth-wicket partnership record for Middlesex against Somerset of 121 by Nigel Haig and Hector Gunasekera in 1920, also at Taunton.
It finally came to an end when Roland-Jones, having achieved a career-best score, was caught at short leg off Johann Myburgh and Morgan followed in the next over when he was stumped off Jack Leach (3-40).
Alfonso Thomas (3-32) finished things off by removing Tim Murtagh (20), but it was new-ball partner Peter Trego who made the early breakthrough when Middlesex batted again, winning an lbw decision against England Test opener Robson, who made only four.
Spinner Leach did the lion's share of the bowling thereafter, but neither he nor five other members of the Somerset attack could separate Rogers and Malan over the final 43 overs of play.
BBC London 94.9's Kevin Hand:
"Middlesex displayed all the resolve that would have been demanded of them on day three but a Somerset win remains the most likely outcome.
"Eoin Morgan and Toby Roland-Jones showed incredible defiance against a ball that was still only 32 overs old this morning and their record eighth wicket stand for Middlesex against Somerset set the tone for the day.
"Captain Chris Rogers was aggressive at the start of the follow-on in an attempt to negate the threat of Alfonso Thomas and Peter Trego but the new ball that becomes available around lunchtime on the final day could be crucial to the visitors' hopes of securing the draw and widening the gap to relegation rivals Lancashire to 19 points."