A century by Paul Horton and a dynamic bowling display by Lancashire's attack helped Glen Chapple's men completely dominate the third day of their LV= Division One match against Hampshire at Southport and the home team will surely wrap up a comfortable victory early on Saturday and reinforce their hopes of winning the Division Two title.
After Lancashire had batted in the most enterprising fashion to score 284 for five declared, the home attack reduced the visitors to 137 for seven at the close, still 359 runs short of their notional victory target of 496.
In the morning session Lancashire added 159 runs in just 30 overs to extend their lead to 409 at the interval. The solitary Hampshire success was claimed by debutant Brad Taylor who had Luis Reece caught behind by Adam Wheater for 65, the Lancashire opener’s sixth successive first-class fifty. Reece had put on an impressive 166 for the first wicket with Paul Horton, Lancashire's largest opening stand of the season.
Horton himself was undefeated on 91 at lunch and he completed his first century of the season soon after the resumption. The opener faced 143 balls in order to reach three figures for the first time since last July and he hit 11 fours and two sixes in the process.
The afternoon session also brought further success for Taylor who took three further wickets to finish with four for 64 from 14 overs on his maiden first-class appearance. The 16-year-old off-spinner’s victims included Horton for 111, Ashwell Prince (38) and Andrea Agathangelou (28) but Chapple declared with Lancashire on 284 for five when Luke Procter was bowled by Liam Dawson for 10. That left Hampshire to score 496 to win.
Chapple himself made an immediate breakthrough when he had opposite number Jimmy Adams caught by second slip Agathangelou for four but the Red Rose skipper was forced to limp from the field with an Achilles injury a couple of balls later. The skipper’s condition is still being assessed.
However, the other Lancashire seamers also proved themselves penetrative operators. Liam Dawson was lbw to Tom Smith’s second ball for two and Michael Roberts was lbw to Kyle Hogg for 19.
Hogg’s next success, that of James Vince, who lost his off stump when driving loosely, was his 56th and made the seamer the leading wicket-taker in this season’s County Championship.
The next two wickets were claimed by Simon Kerrigan, who had Sean Ervine caught on the leg side boundary by Luke Procter and then had Neil McKenzie pouched at mid on by Tom Smith when a delivery from the slow left-armer caught the South African’s leading edge.
McKenzie’s 44 was the most sizeable contribution to what was an indifferent Hampshire batting performance, and this was characterised by Chris Wood’s farcical run out for six near the end of the day
But Adam Wheater and Matt Coles successfully defended the final overs of the day to take the match into its fourth morning. For Paul Horton, though, the day was one of achievement in which he had reminded Lancashire supporters of his many qualities and of the gap he left when he was sidelined with a finger injury earlier in the season.
It was nice to spend some time in the middle and obviously to get a century,” said Horton. “I've missed a little bit of cricket this season with a finger injury so it was nice to come back, find some form and get 100.
I never really feel that I'm out of form. I know it sound weird but it's a state of mind really and I always find I hit the ball quite well and I found my rhythm really quite quickly on coming back into the side.
I was disappointed to throw away a chance at Leicester and then last week I got out for 30, so when I get in I like to carry on and in this second innings I managed to do it. We've played some good cricket and adapted to the wicket better than Hampshire have and scored some runs. We were better disciplined on the surface and that has put us in a strong position going into the last day.
Luis Reece has done really well and grabbed his opportunity with both hands and taken up the role nicely. I haven't opened with him that much but it's nice to form a partnership because I've had some different partners over the last few years. It's nice to get to understand people and it probably helps him to have a more senior guy at the other end to try and help him along.
I've missed out at Liverpool before and got a 90-odd the other year so it's nice to get one on a ground I played on in the Liverpool Comp. And anywhere you get a hundred is nice!
Picture of Paul Horton during his century today (c) Simon Pendrigh