Lancashire 257 for 4 (Brown 97, Prince 83, Davies 51) trail Northamptonshire 438 (Rossington 89, Faulkner 4-63) by 181 runs
Lancashire fought back well against Northamptonshire on a second day dominated by the batsmen as the home side's middle order made a solid start in replying to 438. Karl Brown made 97 and Ashwell Prince 83 to help Lancashire to 257 for 4 at the close.
In perfect batting conditions, the Division Two leaders started the day hoping for quick wickets, with Northants on 388 for 6 and their tail exposed. A frenetic opening hour saw the visitors lose Adam Rossington, trapped lbw by Kyle Jarvis for 89, before former Lancs allrounder Steven Crook and Azharullah added valuable late-order runs. Australian James Faulkner was the pick of the Red Rose bowlers, finishing with figures of 4 for 63.
With the mercury rising, Lancashire's reply got off to a poor start when a wonderful second over of the innings from Olly Stone climaxed with the 21-year-old knocking back Paul Horton's off stump as the Lancashire opener's poor run of form with the bat continued.
In a mirror image of Northamptonshire's batting, an early wicket was followed by a century partnership as Brown and Alex Davies began rebuilding with determination and no little skill.
Brown, who earlier survived an easy stumping opportunity when Rossington fumbled a sharply turning delivery from Graeme White, reached his half-century in the half-hour before the break. He was quickly followed by Davies, who celebrated being shortlisted for the LV= Breakthrough Player of the Year award with a fifth fifty of the season before edging Rob Keogh behind two balls later.
Despite the breakthrough, things did not get any any easier for the overworked Northants bowlers after tea as Brown and the in-form Prince set about building another big partnership. It was a particularly memorable afternoon for South African Prince as he first passed 18,000 first-class runs when reaching 55 and then became the first player this season to hit 1000 Championship runs after making 61.
Meanwhile, at the other end, a long-awaited second first-class century seemed to be within Brown's grasp until he inexplicably top edged a cut off White to Stone at slip for 97 with the score on 226 and the third-wicket partnership worth 116. It was especially unfortunate for Brown, having been dismissed for 96 against Leicestershire earlier in the season.
Northants sniffed a rare chance and got their reward when Prince followed soon after, edging a drive to Stone at slip off Keogh, who bowled his offbreaks tirelessly for 27 overs.
Despite Richard Levi dropping a late chance presented by Steven Croft off the bowling of Keogh, the double breakthrough perhaps tipped the scales slightly in the visitors' favour with Faulkner and skipper Croft negotiating the rest of the day's play safely.