A day of fluctuating fortunes ended with Durham taking a significant advantage in to the final day of this enthralling LV= County Championship encounter
Durham need another 113 runs for victory after closing day three on 58-2 after 21 overs, Michael Di Venuto reaching a solid 34 not out off 40 balls.
Lancashire had mustered a second innings score of 226 to set the visitors a target of 171 in the final session of the day.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Mark Chilton both notched important half centuries earlier, Chilton’s being his second of the match following his first innings 68, before the Red Rose lost their last five wickets for 32 runs.
Chilton said: “We’re up against it a bit at the minute, but I certainly think there’s a bit of hope there for us.
“The first hour (tomorrow) is going to be crucial. We need to make inroads and put their middle to lower order under pressure. It’s pretty clear that it’s going to be a huge day for us. There’s still some spin and inconsistent bounce there, and we’ve got to believe that we can do it.”
Lancashire started the third day on the back foot, still 34 runs behind with eight second innings wickets in hand.
But Chilton and night-watchman Gary Keedy steadied the nerves, dodging a brief rain shower, by sharing an important 56 for the third wicket before the left arm spinner was trapped lbw for 24 trying to pull leg spinner Scott Borthwick.
Chilton and Chanderpaul then shared 41 for the fourth wicket before the former also fell lbw, this time to left armer Ian Blackwell for 50, to leave the hosts at 107-4 in the 48th over.
Chilton had hit eight boundaries in his 129-ball stay at the crease, but his departure brought Chanderpaul and Steven Croft together for the fifth wicket stand.
Whilst Chanderpaul’s assurance at the crease was plain to see, Croft seemed happy to chance his arm. Although he only hit two boundaries, his intent was impressive. He was happy to use his feet to the spinners.
But it eventually cost him as he edged Borthwick to a diving Di Venuto at first slip, aiming an expansive drive through the covers and Lancs were 164-5.
Chanderpaul then lofted Blackwell over long on for his second six, just after reaching his 50 off 111 balls.
But Blackwell got his revenge with the last ball of the afternoon session when he bowled the left hander as he stepped back trying to cut. Chanderpaul had hit five fours and two sixes in his 136 balls.
With conditions cold and damp early on today, maybe that was the reason that Blackwell did not seem quite as effective as he had been during the first innings.
But the former Somerset man seemed to find his feet as the day went on, and Gareth Cross will vouch for that seen as he was trapped lbw for 13 just after tea.
Luke Sutton was next to go shortly afterwards, this time Liam Plunkett getting the sucessful lbw appeal. Lancs had reached 211 for the loss of their eighth wicket.
Sajid Mahmood, batting with Paul Horton as his runner due to a back spasm, did not last long at all because he was caught behind by Phil Mustard for a duck.
Glen Chapple then took the bulk of the strike from Simon Kerrigan, but at the end of the next over the Lancashire skipper attempted a quick single, only to be short of his ground as Borthwick threw down the stumps at the non-striker’s end from his position at point.
Requiring 171, Durham had reached 22-0 after five overs of their chase when left arm spinner Keedy, on the back of seven wickets in the first innings, entered the fray.
And he bowled Mark Stoneman off an inside edge in the tenth over, with only another five runs added to the total before he had Gordon Muchall caught at first slip by Horton for three to leave the score at 43-2.
Mitchell Claydon and Di Venuto survived to resume at the crease tomorrow.
Graham Hardcastle at Old Trafford
Photo: Simon Pendrigh, Peakpix Digital Images
(c) Lancashire CCC Ltd