World number one Luke Donald kept in touch at the 141st Open Championship as he carded a two-under 68 - eight shots of the pace.
Donald fired five birdies, but there were also three bogeys to leave him on two under, following Thursday's 70.
Ryder Cup colleague Ian Poulter is two shots behind him on level par.
He improved on a first-round 71 with a 69 thanks to four birdies, littered with a bogey at the sixth and a double at the 15th.
But it is Donald who stands jointly with Open debutant James Morrison as the leading Englishman.
"Again, it was pretty solid tee to green," the High Wycombe golfer told BBC Three Counties.
"The difference between yesterday's and today's round was I holed a few more putts.
"I gave myself a lot of opportunities from 100 to 150 yards with the greens being pretty soft and there being not much wind.
"I'm certainly feeling more and more comfortable. It's nice to string a couple of solid rounds together in a major. Obviously where I am in my career I need to be contending.
"And I feel if I can be a little bit sharper on the weekend, I can make a few more birdies."
As to whether he can make up the eight shots on half-way leader Brandt Snedeker, Donald said: "It depends on the conditions.
"From what I hear, tomorrow is going to be a similar day to today, and Sunday is going to be a bit more breezy. But it's never easy playing with a lead.
"The crowd's been great, really vocal. And I was just loving it when I made that little bit of run on 4, 5 and 6 and 8 and made some good putts there. They're really getting behind me."