Third-placed Middlesex were finding life tough against Division One’s bottom side Derbyshire as they closed day two still trailing their opponents’ first-innings total by 188 runs with only four wickets remaining.
Replying to Derbyshire’s 385, Middlesex limped to 197-6 with Matt Higginbottom taking 3-51, including the valuable wickets of Adam Voges (69) and Eoin Morgan (28).
Earlier, home captain Wayne Madsen finished unbeaten on 138 as Derbyshire added an extra 106 runs to their overnight 279-6, with last two Tim Groenewald (49) and Mark Footitt (19) helping their captain to frustrate Middlesex.
In the other Division One match taking place, Ateeq Javid (103) and Laurie Evans (130) both made unbeaten centuries to lead an impressive Warwickshire fightback against relegation-threatened Somerset at Edgbaston.
Having made 340 yesterday, Somerset looked in control in the morning as they reduced Warwickshire to 38-3 but 21-year-old Javid – with his maiden first-class century – and Evans launched a superb response with an unbroken 245-run stand as the defending champions closed on 283-3.
In Division Two, promotion hopefuls Northamptonshire left themselves in a formidable position at the end of the second day against Essex at Colchester.
To begin with, Andrew Hall and Steven Crook both scored 63 to help Northamptonshire push their overnight 343-5 to an imposing 531 all out, and then Crook took two wickets as Essex slumped to 187-5 in reply.
It would have been even better for the visitors but Ryan ten Doeschate (47 not out) and James Foster (39no) put on an unbroken 84-run stand for the sixth wicket as Essex enjoyed some joy at the end of a tough day.
Gloucestershire, in third place, were unable to build on a good start to their match against Kent at Canterbury as the hosts recovered from 46-3 before closing on 334-6.
Ben Harmison led the way for Kent with 106 while Darren Stevens (98 not out) and Rob Key (53) also made significant contributions.
The bowlers were on top at Swansea where 13 wickets fell on the opening day of the battle between the bottom two sides, Glamorgan and Leicestershire.
Australian paceman Michael Hogan took five for 43 as Leicestershire were bowled out for 203. Glamorgan, however, had slipped to 36-3 by the close.