Lancashire enforced to follow-on at Taunton
Lancashire endured a difficult day at Taunton after being made to follow on having been bowled out for 133 with Jack Leach taking five wickets.
Replying to the home side's first-innings 335, the red rose county saw their hopes of overhauling leaders Essex and claiming the title all but vanish as they were dismissed for 133 inside 58 overs.
Slow left armer Leach inflicted much of the damage on a pitch offering turn, claiming 5-47 to help the home side forge a meaningful first-innings lead of 202. Needing to win one of their final three games to catch either Middlesex or Yorkshire and avoid being relegated to the Second Division, Somerset enforced the follow-on and Lancashire reached stumps on 28 without loss, still 174 behind.
Once Somerset had added five runs to their overnight tally, their focus switched to applying pressure with the ball, and Craig Overton effected an early breakthrough, inducing Alex Davies to edge a routine catch to Marcus Trescothick at second slip.
Having batted for more than an hour and faced 56 balls in scratching four runs, England batsman Haseeb Hameed was lured into uncharacteristic indiscretion by a short-pitched delivery from Peter Trego, top-edging a miss-timed hook to George Bartlett at fine leg. Haseeb's place on the plane to Australia for this winter's Ashes tour is by no means guaranteed and this dismissal will scarcely aid his cause.
Introduced as early as the 13th over, Leach claimed his 150th first-class victim when Liam Livingstone, pushing forward tentatively, edged low to first slip where Overton stooped to conquer as the visitors slipped to 39-3.
Veteran campaigners Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Steven Croft set about repairing the damage, advancing the score to 61-3 by lunch, at which point the heavens opened. By the time conditions eased and play could resume, Somerset's bowlers were left with a minimum of 38 overs in which to further impose themselves.
Leach accounted for Chanderpaul on 17, tempting the West Indies batsman to play round the corner and pop a straightforward catch up to Trescothick via bat and pad with the scoreboard on 84. Lancashire were only two runs better off when Croft, nine short of a half century, was left by an Overton away-swinger and nicked a regulation catch behind.
Dane Vilas fell to a poor shot, pouched by Steve Davies off the bowling of Tim Groenewald for eight and Leach registered his hundredth wicket in matches at Taunton, bowling Stephen Parry for one.
Devon-born off spinner Dominic Bess then accounted for Tom Bailey, expertly stumped by Davies, while Leach had Kyle Jarvis caught at the wicket and pinned Ryan McLaren lbw for 30 as Lancashire nose-dived.
Lancashire coach Glen Chapple said: "I don't think we can look back and say we played particularly well, but Somerset did play well. It was almost a case of what the ball might do with the dismissals and it was doing a fair bit.
"If we look back on our dismissals, it should give us the encouragement we need to go out there and play a bit better tomorrow and make a bigger score. Game-plan and method are key on that pitch and you have to make up your mind what you are good at and decide how you are going to play against their bowlers. The longer you stay in, the more you get used to the pitch and the bowler.
"If we can get two or three big partnerships, we can test them a bit, post a total that takes us past Somerset and then set them a target. We'll be looking to lay a foundation in the morning knowing that the pitch will get worse in time."