Northamptonshire 73 for 7 trail Gloucestershire 220 (A Gidman 56, Batty 55, Evans 4-38) by 147 runs
James Fuller and Liam Norwell fought back with three wickets each for Gloucestershire to reduce Northamptonshire to 73 for 7 by the close on day one at Bristol. It followed four wickets for Luke Evans as the visitors dismissed their hosts for 220.
Pitch inspector David Hughes found no fault with the wicket on a day dominated by the seam bowlers and featuring some pretty ordinary batting.
It was Andrew Hall with 3 for 37 who ripped out Gloucestershire's top order, taking his wickets in the space of 11 balls at a cost of two runs as Gloucestershire slumped from 41 without loss to 44 for 4, while Evans finished with 4 for 38 from 13 overs.
But the home side's total was soon looking more than decent as Northants plunged from 30 without loss to 72 for 7. Only Stephen Peters, with 35, offered much resistance as Fuller, 3 for 25, sent back Niall O'Brien, Rob Newton and Hall with a pacy spell from the Pavilion End. Norwell's 3 for 21 was just as impressive from the Ashley Down Road End, claiming the wickets of David Sales, Kyle Coetzer and Peters.
There was little sign of carnage ahead when Gloucestershire openers Benny Howell and Ed Cowan put together a solid opening stand of 41 at the start of the day. Then Howell, on 29, was dropped at second slip by Peters off Luke Evans and it signalled a transformation in fortunes. Next ball Evans rapped Howell on the pads and gained an lbw verdict.
Cowan, back in Gloucestershire's team after a short spell as temporary overseas player earlier in the season, went leg-before for 8 in the next over as Hall began to make rapid inroads, swinging the ball and getting some seam movement from the Ashley Down Road End. His next two overs saw Dan Housego's off stump knocked out of the ground for 1 and Hamish Marshall pinned lbw on the back foot for a duck.
Alex Gidman launched a counter-attack with four fours in an over from David Willey, all punched through the off side, before, with the score on 95, Ian Cockbain had his middle stump sent flying by Willey having made 10.
It was 95 for 5 at lunch and the afternoon session saw Gidman reach his half-century off 48 balls, with 10 fours. He added 33 for the sixth wicket with brother Will before falling to another lbw verdict, Willey claiming his second victim. Will Gidman was caught in the slips driving at a wide ball from Jack Brooks and when Fuller edged a catch to the wicketkeeper off Evans Gloucestershire were 151 for 8.
Jon Batty and Anthony Ireland, on loan from Middlesex, saw the home side to tea at 206 for 8 and Batty reached a battling half-century straight after the interval, having faced 89 balls and hit six fours.
Ireland soon perished to a catch behind off Evans for a handy 22 before Batty was last man out, caught at point making room to hit Evans through the off side.