It took plenty of time and a lot of hard work but Lancashire's batsmen finally seized control of their side's LV= County Championship match against Gloucestershire at Liverpool on the third evening.
Greatly assisted by half-centuries by Ashwell Prince, Gareth Cross and Wayne White, the latter's first for Lancashire, Glen Chapple's men go into the final day of this game on 239 for seven, a healthy lead of 327 runs.
Cross and Prince both hit 64 and White an unbeaten 52 to leave Lancashire well placed to press for a third Championship victory. Earlier the home bowlers had dismissed Gloucestershire for 222 to earn a first-innings lead of 88.
The morning's play was dominated by Alex Gidman and Simon Kerrigan. The Gloucestershire batsman took his overnight 54 not out to 110 before he became the slow left-armer's fifth wicket when he pulled Kerrigan to deep square leg where White leapt to take a fine catch.
However, Gidman's fine innings also ensured that Lancashire's first-innings lead was not above three figures. He reached his first Championship century of the season off 170 balls with a six and a four off consecutive deliveries from Kyle Hogg and had faced 179 balls in all when he was finally dismissed on the stroke of lunch.
Kerrigan, meanwhile, bowled throughout the morning session to take five for 40 from 14.2 overs on Friday and five for 68 in the innings as a whole. The 24-year-old spinner began by having Benny Howell caught by second slip Karl Brown for 39 and then bowled Gareth Roderick for a duck three balls later.
After Glen Chapple had had Craig Miles taken by second slip Prince, Kerrigan struck twice in four balls by having Graeme McCarter caught at slip by Steven Croft before trapping Liam Norwell lbw for a duck.
That left Gloucestershire on 195 for nine but Gidman combined with wrist-injury victim Ed Young to add a further 27 runs before the centurion's dismissal. Chapple finished with 3-58.
Any hopes Lancashire had that building a substantial lead would be straightforward were damaged as early as the first ball of their innings when Andrea Agathangelou was caught behind off Craig Miles.
Two wickets apiece were then bagged by the Gloucestershire seamers Norwell and McCarter as the home side collapsed to 62 for five, a lead of just 150.
Stephen Moore made 34 before pulling McCarter to Miles at square leg and Simon Katich was caught behind first ball off the Londonderry-born bowler. Karl Brown (6) and Croft (5) both fell to Norwell as Gloucestershire threatened to embarrass their hosts.
However, Cross and Prince restored the home side's advantage with an 85-run stand for the sixth wicket, Prince hitting eight boundaries in his 106-ball innings of 64, his fourth Championship score above 50, before he chipped Benny Howell's slower ball to Norwell at mid-off. However, Cross and White flogged a tiring attack in brutal fashion to add 67 in 12 overs and force home Lancashire's advantage.
Cross was eventually caught in the deep off Norwell, who ended the day with three for 80, but White completed his first fifty for Lancashire off 47 balls three overs before the close and ended the day 52 not out.
“I have felt in good form all year," said Cross. "I have had a few disappointing dismissals but it is good now to carry on contributing. If either Ashwell or myself got out early we would have really been in trouble, so it was good to get a partnership together. We played well.
“Because Wayne got out first ball in the first innings, he said he was going to have a crack this time round and it worked well and it took a bit of pressure off me as well. It worked really well between us.
“I have done some stuff in the winter about occupying the crease more. I can play the shots, but that is too risky at times. It is just trying to play to my ability and take the safer option, which seems to be working.”
Cross's performance on Friday was all the more laudable given that he had received a painful blow in the mouth when keeping in the morning session.
“The lip hurt at the time" admitted Cross. "There was a bit of blood and stuff but I didn’t lose any teeth. It’s alright. The ball was edged into my lip, but it is fine now. I just have to get rid of this fat lip!"
Photo: Graeme McCarter edges Simon Kerrigan to Steven Croft at slip (c) Simon Pendrigh