A result is firmly on the cards at Liverpool today as Lancashire and Hampshire search desperately for a win to boost their respective battles at either end of the County Championship table.
Title-chasing Lancashire are in the ascendancy thanks to some aggressive batting from openers Paul Horton, who scored a superb 96 off 137 balls, and Stephen Moore either side of tea.
But two late wickets from Danny Briggs yesterday have Hampshire hope as the hosts finished on 195 for two, leading by 202 runs.
Giles White’s relegation-threatened side are likely to chase whatever total they are set as they look to win their fourth match in five and keep up their defiant battle against the drop.
Horton and Moore shared their highest opening partnership of the summer, 168 inside 45 overs, although there was frustration for Horton when he fell for the fourth time in the nineties in the current Championship campaign.
Moore finished the day unbeaten on 77 off 151 balls, with Karl Brown yet to get off the mark.
Sean Ervine’s first Championship century of the season had frustrated the hosts as Hampshire fought with the bat during the first session and a half.
Replying to 388, the visitors totalled 381 after starting the day on 229 for five, Ervine progressing from 52 overnight to 128 off 212 balls.
Ervine batted patiently for his third century in his past 10 innings against the Red Rose county.
He shared 88 inside 31 overs for the sixth wicket with Michael Bates (43), 37 in 11 for the seventh with Dimitri Mascarenhas and 59 inside 15 for the ninth with tail-ender Danny Briggs, who made a creditable 29.
Lancashire started the day targeting a first-innings lead in the region of 80 but had to settle for just seven.
Horton and Moore then batted positively without being reckless, adding to boundaries with some superb running between the wickets.
Horton, in particular, was not afraid to use his feet against the left-arm spin of Briggs.
He lofted him over mid-off and mid-on for boundaries before clearing the long-on rope shortly after reaching his fifty off 76 balls.
Moore’s fifty came off 122 balls shortly before Horton fell as he top-edged a sweep off Briggs to Mascarenhas running in from long-leg.
Lancashire captain Chapple promoted himself up the order to number three but also fell to a top-edge off Briggs for 13 off 11 balls to set up today’s intriguing finale.