Lancashire made an impressive start in their pursuit of a tricky victory target of 200 against Durham at Chester-le-Street
That was after a fine hundred from Durham's Ben Stokes lit up today's third day in this LV= County Championship clash at the Riverside.
The Red Rose county may have lost Paul Horton to the very first ball of their chase, trapped lbw by Graham Onions, but Stephen Moore and Karl Brown steadied the ship with aplomb.
They reached 23 and 30 not out respectively to post an overnight score of 56-1 from 16 overs, leaving the visitors needing another 144 when play resumes on day four tomorrow morning.
Durham began the day at 0-0 after three balls of their second innings, trailing by 68 runs in the face of difficult batting conditions. And when they were reduced to 71-4 on the stroke of lunch, Lancashire looked set to race towards their first success in 2012 at the seventh attempt.
But Stokes and former England Test batsman Paul Collingwood (50) shared a battling fifth-wicket stand of 132 inside 34 overs through the majority of the afternoon as the visiting attack struggled for rhythm.
Stokes finished with 121 off 170 balls as Durham were bowled out for 267 midway through the evening session, with Simon Kerrigan and Luke Procter finishing with 3-37 from 10.3 overs and 3-62 from 17 respectively.
Both batsmen finished with their highest Championship scores of the season.
Kerrigan and Procter shared the last five Durham wickets to fall for 51 runs after they had been 216-5, which meant Lancashire's batsmen had to face 16 overs of their chase before close.
"We stuck at it really well," said left-arm spinner Kerrigan. "Stokes and Collingwood batted really well for them. They frustrated us and scored pretty freely. But we managed to restrict them, and we started off really well tonight.
"They got themselves in after lunch and started running well between the wickets. Stokes played an amazing knock to get a hundred, but Moorey and Browny also played positively. They put the bad ball away, which you've still got to do. Hopefully we can start well in the morning.
"Their bowling attack is really dangerous though. Any one of their seamers is capable of getting you out at any stage. The pitch is up and down, it's overcast, and it's been swinging. We're going to have to play some good cricket to get a result, but I'm sure the lads are up for it."
In claiming two wickets during the latter stages of the morning, captain Glen Chapple was virtually unplayable. He took advantage of the swing on offer to trap Gordon Muchall lbw and have force Dale Benkenstein to edge to Ashwell Prince at second slip during the last over before lunch.
Ajmal Shahzad, whose first seven-over spell was arguably his best since joining the county, and Procter had taken the first two Durham wickets to fall, those of openers Will Smith and Mark Stoneman after a 53-run opening stand.
Lancashire's bowlers veered in line and length after lunch as Collingwood and Stokes, in particular, capitalised.
Prince, having earlier dropped Benkenstein at second slip off Chapple, handed Collingwood a life on 27 off Shahzad's bowling. But the batsman fell two balls after reaching 50 when he was trapped lbw by Kyle Hogg, leaving the score at 203-5.
Phil Mustard fell just after tea when he reverse swept Simon Kerrigan's left-arm spin to Paul Horton at first slip, but Stokes brought up his first hundred since last May, also against Lancashire at the Riverside.
Procter had Scott Borthwick superbly caught by a diving Prince before bowling Graham Onions to leave the score at 254-8, a home lead of 186.
Stokes opened his shoulders and was dropped two balls running off Kerrigan by Prince and Kyle Hogg before finally perishing off the same bowler to Hogg at short fine-leg. Kerrigan then claimed his third wicket to wrap up the innings, that of Steve Harmison trapped lbw.
"Chappie came on and hit his straps straightaway," said Kerrigan. "He bowled some absolute snorters to Benkenstein before lunch. We've had a few times where we've needed lunch to come. This was one when you want to stay out there.
"If you just stood there and poked around, they probably felt like they were going to nick off. Collingwood stood back in his crease and then walked at the ball too, which Stokes did as well. They weren't letting our bowlers settle. But thankfully we managed to restrict them in the end."