Somerset win hots up chase for County Championship
COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP DIVISION ONE, Taunton: Somerset 382 & 48-1 beat Lancashire 259 & 170 by nine wickets Somerset 23 pts, Lancashire 5 pts Match scorecard
Willoughby reached 50 Championship scalps for 2010 in the first innings
Somerset closed to within two points of leaders Nottinghamshire as they ended outsiders Lancashire's slim title hopes with a nine-wicket win at Taunton.
After being bowled out for 382, with a 123-run lead, Charl Willoughby and Alfonso Thomas took three wickets each as Lancashire were bowled out for 170.
Only Steven Croft (46) and a late stand between Kyle Hogg (37 not out) and Luke Procter (32) offered any resistance.
Nick Compton then hit an unbeaten 26 as Somerset sauntered home on 48-1.
Marcus Trescothick's men must now go to Chester-le-Street next week and beat reigning champions Durham if they are to claim a first-ever County Championship title.
The day began with Somerset on 350-8, already leading by 91 runs.
Ben Phillips fell quickly, but Murali Kartik, unbeaten on 38 overnight, moved to his second half-century of the season, while some lusty blows from last man Willoughby helped extend the lead to 123 before he was run out by Simon Kerrigan.
Lancashire's hopes of getting back into the game - and into the title race - then suffered a double blow with their second innings score on 22.
Paul Horton was unhappy at being judged lbw to Phillips before Tom Smith was caught at third slip driving at a Willoughby away-swinger.
It was then 32-3 when Mark Chilton was pinned leg before by a ball that nipped back off the seam from Thomas, who then claimed the key wicket of Shivnarine Chanderpaul, on 20, with a delivery that kept lown.
At lunch, the scoreboard read 62-4 but that was extended to 109 before Croft's typically battling innings ended when he was given out caught in the gully.
The batsman signalled his annoyance at the bat/pad decision by kicking the ground and swishing his bat angrily several times on the way back to the pavilion.
In the same Trego over, Gareth Cross was also out to a bat-pad catch, this time the ball carrying through to wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter.
Saj Mahmood also fell for a duck, lbw to Phillips with the total on 116, but Procter and Hogg at least ensured that Somerset would have to bat again.
Procter was caught behind cutting at Willoughby, having faced 108 balls, but Gary Keedy and Kerrigan both departed without scoring as Somerset, encouraged by the result at Trent Bridge, moved in for the kill.
Lancashire took just five points from the game and must now watch the outcome of a three-horse race for the title - but they will still play a part as they take on leaders Notts at Old Trafford.
While Somerset are also on the road next week, at Chester-le-Street, the other side in with a chance, third-placed Yorkshire, have perhaps the easiest fixture - at home to relegation-haunted Kent.
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