Northamptonshire 256 and 160 for 7 (Stone 3-30) lead Warwickshire 265 (Ambrose 78, Bell 61, Brooks 50, Crook 4-51, Bracewell 4-71) trail by 151 runs
Warwickshire and Northamptonshire were both eyeing up a precious Specsavers County Championship victory after swapping blows for two gripping days at Edgbaston. Northamptonshire, trailing by nine on first innings, were 160 for 7 when bad light ended the second day 14 overs early.
On a pitch starting to offer variable bounce, the visitors will fancy their chances if they can set a target in the region of 200. But Warwickshire will point to the partnerships that have been built when the ball has gone soft and feel they have a real chance of cementing their place at the top of Division Two.
It was a splendid, intense, competitive match with the initiative switching from team to team and, attended by good crowds, a fine advert for County Championship cricket.
After resuming on the second morning on 100 for 4, Warwickshire advanced to 265 all out. Doug Bracewell quickly removed both overnight batsmen as Matt Lamb fell lbw and Ian Bell departed furious with himself after steering Brett Hutton to third slip.
Hutton's third catch of the innings removed Jeetan Patel off Steven Crook, who also had Chris Wright caught behind. That left Warwickshire struggling on 169 for 8 - still 87 behind - but Tim Ambrose and Henry Brookes added 95 in 21 overs.
They took their side in front before Ambrose edged Crook behind. Two balls later, Crook limped off injured but Ben Sanderson wrapped up the innings in the next over when he trapped Brookes lbw. Bracewell and Crook shared eight of the ten wickets - having scored 173 of their side's 256 runs in the first innings.
Northamptonshire started their second innings with a brisk opening stand of 39 in 47 balls before Luke Procter edged Brookes to third slip. Ben Duckett, with 38 from 34, fell lbw attempting to sweep Patel's first ball and further wickets fell just before and after tea as Alex Wakeley pulled Olly Stone to deep square leg and Richard Levi was superbly held by Jonathan Trott at slip off Chris Wright. Adam Rossington's perky 23 was terminated by one from Wright that barely got up and struck him in front.
Stone then ensured that the last initiative shift of the day favoured Warwickshire when he removed Josh Cobb caught behind and Steven Crook, bowled, with successive balls.