Somerset 382 and 48 for 1 beat Lancashire 259 and 170 by nine wickets

Somerset moved back into contention for a first ever County Championship title with a nine-wicket victory over Lancashire at Taunton. The 23 points gained by the home side took them to within two of leaders Nottinghamshire and they will go to Durham for their final game next week in confident mood.

Charl Willoughby took 3 for 37 and Alfonso Thomas 3 for 53 as Lancashire were bowled out for 170 in their second innings, Steven Croft top-scoring with 46. That left Somerset needing just 48 to win and they knocked off the required runs in 8.4 overs for the loss of skipper Marcus Trescothick. Nick Compton was unbeaten on 30 at the end.

The day began with Somerset 350 for 8 in their first innings, leading by 91 runs. Ben Phillips fell quickly, but Murali Kartik, unbeaten on 38 overnight, moved to his second half-century of the season off 70 balls with eight fours and a six. Some lusty blows from last man Willoughby helped extend the lead to 123 before he was run out by Simon Kerrigan.

Lancashire's hopes of getting back into the game suffered a double blow with their second innings score on 22. Paul Horton was unhappy at being judged lbw to Phillips for two and Tom Smith was caught by Peter Trego at third slip driving at a Willoughby away-swinger. It was 32 for 3 when Mark Chilton was pinned leg before by a ball from Thomas that nipped back off the seam. Then Thomas claimed the key wicket of Shivnarine Chanderpaul, on 20, with a delivery that kept low and brought another lbw decision.

At lunch the scoreboard read 62 for 4 and the total was extended to 109 before Croft's battling innings ended when he was given out caught in the gully off bat and pad, having faced 101 balls and hit five fours. The batsman signalled his annoyance at the decision by kicking the ground and swishing his bat angrily several times on the way back to the pavilion.

In the same Trego over Gareth Cross was also out to a bat-pad catch, this time the ball carrying through to wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter. Saj Mahmood also fell for a duck, lbw to Phillips with the total on 116, but Luke Procter (32) and Kyle Hogg (37 not out) ensured that Somerset would have to bat again with a stand of 41.

Procter was caught behind cutting at Willoughby, having faced 108 balls, but Gary Keedy and Kerrigan both departed without scoring as Somerset, encouraged by the result at Trent Bridge, moved in for the kill. Lancashire took five points from the game and must now watch the outcome of a three-horse race for the title in the final round of matches as Nottinghamshire, Somerset and Yorkshire tussle for top spot.