A superb rearguard performance from Leicestershire ensured Specsavers County Championship Division Two leaders Lancashire face a tough challenge if they are to force a win on the final day at Aigburth.
The Foxes’ batsmen fought their way through the day’s latter two sessions following a disastrous morning which had left them 82-5 at lunch and had Lancashire hoping to push for a win within three days.
A half-century from Mark Cosgrove (70) and a brilliant 87 from Dieter Klein, as well as able support from Harry Swindells (37) and Callum Parkinson (37) left Leicestershire 12 runs short of avoiding the follow-on as they were dismissed for 288.
By the close, they were 5-1, trailing by 156 runs, but with showers predicted on the final day, they remain in the hunt for a share of the spoils in a game where they have battled hard to keep up.
After rain ensured no play was possible beyond day two’s lunch interval, brighter skies welcomed the players at the start of day three, allowing the visitors to begin their reply to Lancashire’s 449 all out.
Faced with some fine seam bowling from Tom Bailey and Graham Onions, the Foxes were soon in trouble when the former England bowler got a delivery to duck in and trap Hassan Azad on the back foot for four with the score 13-1.
Neil Dexter (1) was next to fall, edging Bailey to Keaton Jennings at first slip, before Bailey struck again in spectacular fashion as he dived forward to pouch a bat and pad chance from Paul Horton (11).
Cosgrove and Colin Ackermann added 44 runs for the fourth wicket when the in-form Richard Gleeson enticed Ackermann, who had already been dropped by Liam Livingstone at second slip, to edge behind to Dane Vilas for 17.
Cosgrove continued to play his shots, reaching 46, when on the stroke of lunch, Livingstone’s off-spin accounted for Harry Dearden (2), glancing to Jennings at first slip.
At 82-5 at lunch, any chance Leicestershire had of avoiding the follow-on looked slim, until Cosgrove was joined by Swindells and the pair’s dogged resistance saw the big Australian battle his way to 70 before he was adjudged LBW to Onions, ending a sixth-wicket partnership of 50.
Wicketkeeper Swindells continued to impress following his four dismissals during Lancashire’s first innings and the 20-year-old managed to register 37 runs before he presented a bat and pad chance to Jennings at short leg.
The game looked up for Leicestershire at 150-7 but Klein and Parkinson had other ideas as they set about compiling a partnership of 119.
The breakthrough finally came when Parkinson was trapped in front by Gleeson, who was probably the pick of the Red Rose bowlers on an increasingly frustrating day for their seam attack.
Klein’s determined vigil finally ended 13 runs short of his century as Gleeson claimed another LBW victim before Mohammad Abbas became his fourth wicket when he edged behind to Vilas.
Chris Wright was left unbeaten on nine but he was quickly back out in the middle as nightwatchman, only to see his stumps splayed after playing on to Onions.
It left Horton and Parkinson with the task of guiding Leicestershire through to the close without further trouble, which they managed.