Northants slip towards ninth defeat
Northamptonshire 221 and 108 for 5 (Kettleborough 58) require a further 296 to beat Somerset 375 and 249 for 8 dec. (Jones 87, Middlebrook 4-40)
Defeat number nine in the County Championship is looming for Northamptonshire against Somerset. Going into the final day with the score on 108 for 5, the equation reads 296 for victory with half of their second innings wickets in hand.
A draw is not an impossibility but given the way the home side have batted this season it is highly unlikely.
The morning session belonged to the visitors who cruised along without feeling the need to press the accelerator. James Hildreth and Chris Jones coasted along at three an over and were not in any trouble at all and it came as a surprise when, shortly before the lunch break, Hildreth, presented James Middlebrook with a return catch.
Despite that, Somerset led by 318 and they moved this along at a similar rate in the afternoon as they approached their intended target.
Northants gained some reward for their stint as they picked up wickets at a consistent rate with Muhammad Azharullah dismissing Peter Trego and Craig Overton in quick succession and Middlebrook seeing off Jones 13 shy of what would have been a maiden Championship century when he played across the line.
The offspinner took his third wicket when Alfonso Thomas lofted to square-leg and that left Lewis Gregory and George Dockrell to push the lead beyond the 400 mark before the declaration arrived.
That left Northants needing to score 404 - more than they have made at any stage this season - in a minimum of 135 overs and they made a solid enough start. Middlebrook, in partnership with James Kettleborough had taken the score to 40 when Gregory, in identical fashion to the first innings, had the former caught at the wicket.
Richard Levi departed in the same way to the next ball and although Rob Newton survived the halt-trick ball, he did not last too long as he dragged on attempting to cut Alfonso Thomas.
Matt Spreigel failed to open his account before a back foot force off Thomas ended in Hildreth's hands at first slip but there was some good news as Kettleborough reached his half century with his 11th boundary. He was dropped by Hildreth off Thomas a couple of overs later and only added a single before he became George first wicket of the game when he was taken at short-leg.
That forced Northants to send in Olly Stone as nightwatchman and he, along with Kyle Coetzer, managed to prevent any further mishaps before the end of the day.