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Horton hoping to clinch win
Horton hoping to clinch win
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Paul Horton is hoping Lancashire's experience of winning nail-biters at Liverpool will stand them in good stead as they look to beat Middlesex in the County Championship here tomorrow.

The in-form opening batsman was one of his county's standout performers during an entertaining day three, which saw 370 runs scored and 13 wickets taken.

Middlesex head into tomorrow's fourth and final day on 29-0 from 14 overs in their pursuit of 429 to spring a surprise. The more realistic equation is that Lancashire need ten wickets from a minimum of 96 overs to win for the first time in seven four-day matches.

Lancashire enjoyed success in two thrillers here last summer, beating Yorkshire in May and Hampshire in September as both matches went down to the final over, which could feasibly happen again in this encounter.

And Horton, who made a busy 89 as Lancashire declared their second innings on 266-8 after tea, said: "We have good memories here. We played Yorkshire here on this wicket, so we know it can go to the wire. But we have dominated the three days, and hopefully we can dominate the fourth.

“We’ve played well in patches this season without winning anything. We’ve probably not taken advantage of the positions we’ve been in, so it's a big day. We have to keep plugging away."

The day saw action from three different innings.

Middlesex were bowled out for 230 in their first innings having started this morning on 155-5. They lost their last five wickets for 48 runs having reached 182-5, although Glen Chapple opted not to enforce the follow-on having gained a lead of 162.

Ajmal Shahzad completed an impressive haul of 4-40, his best in Lancashire colours since arriving at Old Trafford earlier this month.

Neil Dexter (47) and John Simpson (43) shared a sixth-wicket stand of 87, but Dexter edged Chapple behind to Gareth Cross to spark a slide.

Left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan trapped wicketkeeper Simpson, a former team-mate with Lancashire's seconds and at Ormskirk, lbw before Ollie Rayner was caught at second slip by Ashwell Prince to give Shahzad his third wicket.

Gareth Berg also fell to Kerrigan, caught at cover by Prince, before Shahzad wrapped up the innings when he had Corey Collymore caught at first slip by Horton.

Horton and Karl Brown, who both faced 114 balls with the latter scoring 76, then shared 130 for the second wicket in 27 overs to help build Lancashire's lead after Stephen Moore had fallen victim to a fine one-handed catch at second slip by Rayner off Tim Murtagh.

Part-time leg-spinner Dawid Malan then picked up a career best 5-61 amidst Lancashire's pursuit of quick runs. It was also Middlesex's first five-wicket haul of the season.

He had Horton caught at mid-on, Prince stumped, Brown caught behind as the ball ballooned up off bat and pad, Steven Croft caught at deep backward square-leg after hitting the previous two balls for four and six and Shahzad caught at long-off. Lancashire lost four wickets for 16 runs in 14 balls to slip from 250-4.

Chris Rogers and Sam Robson will resume Middlesex's second innings tomorrow morning, with Horton adding: "We've set the game up. We've done everything we can in three days by playing some good cricket. Hopefully we can take the ten wickets.

"It will be tough, but that's what first-class cricket is all about. If the seamers can get a couple of early wickets, it will set things up for Simon Kerrigan.

"I think it will spin, as most wickets do on the last day, especially here. But seamers can still take wickets - Ajmal took four in the first - it's just a bit tougher at times. There's not a great deal of pace in the wicket."

Reports: Day 1   Day 2

Graham Hardcastle
Photos (c) Simon Pendrigh
Article (c) Lancashire CCC Ltd