Robson holds Middlesex together in tight game

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Middlesex 233 & 152: Robson 58, Simpson 33; Bailey 5-44
Lancashire 165 & 46-1: Hameed 22*; Finn 1-10, Harris 0-12
Close, day two: Lancashire trail Middlesex by 174 runs

Sam Robson’s gritty half-century enabled Middlesex to set Lancashire a tricky victory target in their County Championship clash at Lord’s.

Robson top-scored with 58 as the relegation-threatened hosts were bowled out second time around for 152, with Lancashire’s Tom Bailey returning his second five-wicket haul of the match.

That left the Red Rose county chasing 221 and they closed on 46-1 – but Middlesex must take nine more wickets without England paceman Toby Roland-Jones, who has a niggling side problem.

Lancashire resumed their first innings on 113-5 and skipper Steven Croft (37) was the first to depart, caught behind slashing at a Tim Murtagh outswinger, before Jordan Clark (6) followed in the same manner.

Former Middlesex all-rounder Ryan McLaren proved harder to shift, reaching 27 before driving Ollie Rayner (2-2) to mid-on, where Steven Finn sprang to his left to pouch a superb diving catch.

Middlesex led by 68 at the halfway stage and had increased it by just 12 when Bailey (5-44) induced an edge from Nick Compton (9), and later bowled Stevie Eskinazi (2).

Robson dug in, taking more than an hour to accumulate seven runs, before the darkening sky brought a 45-minute delay.

Dawid Malan was trapped lbw by the first ball after the resumption and the home side were 79-4 when Adam Voges (5) edged Clark to gully.

Robson began to open up, striking some crisp boundaries en route to his half-century – but, when he hooked Bailey into the hands of deep square-leg, the innings rapidly deteriorated and Kyle Jarvis (3-30) helped to mop up the tail.

Although Finn removed Alex Davies (1) at the start of Lancashire’s second innings, the balance began to tilt in the visitors’ favour as Hasib Hameed (22*) and Liam Livingstone (13*) steered them to within 175 runs of victory.