Simpson hundred puts Middlesex in control
Northamptonshire 178 for 4 v Middlesex 442 for 8 dec
Wicketkeeper John Simpson's maiden first-class century and two wickets from Danny Evans put Middlesex in a commanding position on the second day against Northamptonshire at Wantage Road.
Simpson's unbeaten 101 in 209 balls, including 16 fours, helped the visitors add 161 runs to their overnight total before captain Shaun Udal declared at 442 for 8.
Stephen Peters hit an impressive 62 in 91 balls in response for Northamptonshire, but paceman Evans removed him and Rob White in consecutive balls in the 33rd over to leave the hosts struggling on 178 for 4 - 264 runs behind.
Middlesex began the day at 281 for 5, with Simpson and Gareth Berg resuming on 28 and four respectively. The pairing took the visitors past 300 for the first time this season within five overs and 21-year-old Simpson comfortably reached his half-century, which included eight fours, after facing 116 balls.
Luke Evans, in his first over of the day, took Northants' only wicket of the morning when Berg, who made 41, edged his delivery to Andrew Hall at slip to end a sixth-wicket partnership of 86.
Middlesex captain Udal was next to the crease and, together with Simpson, saw his side to 391 for 6 at lunch without any alarm. Udal launched the first six of Middlesex's innings over mid-wicket in the 134th over before the captain edged the next ball, from Jack Brooks, to Northants keeper Paul Harrison to be dismissed for 25.
Simpson beat his previous best first-class score of 87 - hit at Wantage Road last year - three overs later with a four behind short fine leg. Tim Murtagh (5) then walked when he nudged Brooks to Harrison before Simpson reached his ton off Hall when he hit his 16th boundary that straight away brought about Middlesex's declaration, with their total including 69 extras.
In-form fast bowler Steven Finn struck first in Northamptonshire's reply when he forced Mal Loye (13) to edge to Dawid Malan at second slip in the 10th over. His fellow opener Peters raced to his half-century inside 69 balls as a single off Berg six overs after tea brought up his 50.
Alex Wakely made 25 before he was comprehensively bowled by Murtagh - the paceman's delivery taking out all three of his stumps. Peters survived when he was dropped by England captain Andrew Strauss at first slip but his off stump was sent spinning by Danny Evans, who trapped White lbw with his very next ball to finish the day with figures of 2 for 47.
David Sales and Hall then put on an unbeaten stand of 70, hitting 11 fours between them, with Sales on 35 and Hall on 31 overnight.