A CHAOTIC second day at Aigburth saw Hampshire edge ahead of Lancashire in their quest to secure a first County Championship since 1973 as wickets continued to tumble in this low scoring tussle between two of the season’s title contenders.

The end result after six absorbing sessions was that the visitors are 160 runs ahead with three wickets in hand although nervous eyes continue to be cast on the ongoing action at Edgbaston where both these sides need Warwickshire to slip up against Somerset.

Lancashire had resumed on 25 for three, chasing Hampshire’s modest total of 143, and the Red Rose’s chances were immediately dented by the loss of Josh Bohannon who was brilliantly caught one-handed at second slip by Joe Weatherley off Keith Barker for 13.

Barker was charging in at this point but it was the more subtle charms of Mohammad Abbas that struck next as nightwatchman Jack Blatherwick edged to Ian Holland at third slip to reduce Lancashire to 27 for five.

Barker’s brilliance continued with Dane Villas next to go, driving straight to Liam Dawson for seven and Danny Lamb lasting just three balls before he edged one to Weatherley without scoring.

The hosts desperately needed some inspiration at 47 for seven and they found it in Steven Croft and Luke Wood with the latter bludgeoning five fours and a six off just 41 balls on his way to a crucial 37.

When Wood departed after nicking a Brad Wheal delivery through to Tom Alsop, he and Croft had put on 46 vital runs for the eighth wicket and when Croft himself was dismissed skying an Abbas delivery to Dawson at mid off for 40, Lancashire were almost on par with their opponents.

Abbas’ fifth wicket ensured they fell just two runs short but even that tiny advantage looked a chasm when Hampshire lost Ian Holland to the third ball of their second innings as he edged a Tom Bailey ball to Bohannon without scoring.

Nought for one quickly became one for two with makeshift opener Mason Crane’s stumps spread by Bailey before the seamer claimed his third wicket when Alsop nicked one to Davies for two to leave Hampshire three for 15.

Lancashire looked to be right in the game when Nick Gubbins played Balderson on for six but James Vince had other ideas as he and Dawson compiled a sixth wicket partnership of 80 after tea.

As the gloom began to descend the game turned again with Matt Parkinson trapping Vince in front for 69 and the tireless Bailey claiming his first five wicket haul of the season with the dismissal of Dawson for 41.