Left-armer Mark Footitt’s best figures of the season helped Surrey to the brink of a deserved Specsavers County Championship win over Lancashire
On a flat pitch at the Kia Oval, the former Derbyshire seamer bent his back to take five for 49 - including three for three in 28 balls during the final session - as Surrey’s attack continued to cause headaches aplenty for the Red Rose middle order.
By the close Lancashire had toppled to 203 for eight, a paltry lead of 10 after losing six wickets in the day’s final session. The visitors will need a batting miracle or a fourth-day deluge in order to deny Surrey their fourth win of their Division One campaign.
Batting again by 1.45pm and after conceding a first-innings deficit of 193, Lancashire had made a bright enough start under occasionally cloudy skies.
Luke Procter and Haseeb Hameed posted 49 before Hameed, on 17, fended at one going across him from Footitt to edge behind to wicketkeeper Ben Foakes.
Liam Livingstone then received a snorting lifter from Stuart Meaker that struck the right-hander’s gloves and flew to slip, where Steven Davies took a sharp, low chance.
Procter, who negated Meaker’s quick bouncers by crouching low in the crease, moved to a well-deserved 85-ball fifty with nine fours just before rain arrived to force a slightly early tea interval.
Procter, with his score on 65, could have gone soon after the resumption but Davies, this time at third slip, downed a tough chance diving toward the vacant berth at second slip.
The third-wicket pair marched on with Alviro Petersen posting a 57-ball half-century with seven fours and a six but, with Surrey’s lead cut to 26 runs, Petersen aimed an over-ambitious drive against Footitt to pick out Dominic Sibley at extra cover.
Without addition to the score, and in Footitt’s next over, Steven Croft followed a leg-cutter to edge to Kumar Sangakkara diving forward at slip to make it 167 for four.
Procter blotted his copybook by walking across his stumps to miss a leg-side flick and depart lbw to Footitt, then Batty was rewarded for his tight stint at the Vauxhall End, with two wickets in five balls. Rob Jones misjudged the line to fall lbw, then Jordan Clark was hoodwinked by a quicker ball that pegged back off stump.
Footitt claimed his fifth when Arron Lilley nicked an expansive drive to slip, but Lancashire survived the last four overs without further alarm to take the match into its final day.
The third day had started with heartbreak for Surrey’s star 18-year-old all-rounder Sam Curran who missed out on his maiden first-class century by four runs, as the hosts elected to bat on until after lunch in adding a further 126 to their eventual total.
Curran’s brother Tom departed in the early exchanges when his miscued sweep against Lancashire off-spinner Lilley and was caught on the run at square leg by Jones.
Sam remained to post a 75-ball fifty and move smoothly to 96 by clipping a Lilley long-hop into the green seats of the lower Westminster Terrace.
But, in attempting another trademark leg-side clip two deliveries later, Curran found a leading edge to loop a return catch to the bowler. Not surprisingly, the teenager moped off having hit 13 fours and three sixes in his eye-catching 127-ball knock.
Batty followed soon after, prodding forward as he missed a Simon Kerrigan arm ball to give Lancashire’s other frontline spinner his sole wicket of a 30-over stint.
After an early lunch for bad light and drizzle, Surrey were finally dismissed when Lilley turned one sharply past the lunge of Footitt to peg back middle and leg and finish with figures of five for 130.