|County Championship Division One, Lord's|
|Close, day three: Middlesex 446 & 129-2, Lancashire 448|
|Middlesex 6pts, Lancashire 4pts|
Lancashire kept their hopes of avoiding the drop alive by earning a first innings lead over Middlesex at Lord's.
But the relegation-haunted visitors may need a Middlesex declaration to stand any chance of a precious victory.
Karl Brown (78), Ashwell Prince (71) and Gareth Cross (59) all completed half-centuries as Lancs totalled 448, with spinner Ravi Patel taking 4-126.
But Australian opener Chris Rogers then hit an unbeaten 57 as Middlesex recovered from 44-2 to close on 129-2.
With a lead of 127 for the home side, and rivals Surrey scenting victory against Nottinghamshire at The Oval, Lancashire need to make an early breakthrough on the final day to stand any chance of forcing victory.
On the day the 2011 winners surrendered their title of county champions to Warwickshire, they competed valiantly, just sneaking a fourth batting bonus point before going on to claim a two-run first innings lead.
VIEW FROM THE COMMENTARY BOX
BBC London 94.9's Kevin Hand:
"Despite the slow progress in this match, on a batsman's pitch, there could yet be a thrilling final day.
"If Surrey beat Nottinghamshire at The Oval, Lancashire would need a win to keep their survival hopes alive ahead of next week's finale against their relegation rivals.
"Middlesex already have a healthy lead with eight wickets remaining and a good morning session may force Lancashire to offer to set up an unlikely run chase to keep their victory hopes alive."
BBC Radio Lancashire's Scott Read:
"Having battered superbly to draw level and then overtake Middlesex's first innings, Lancashire face a season-defining day.
"They now need to produce something special to bowl the home side side. If not, they may have to face an almost impossible run chase, should Surrey win and Middlesex declare.
"With more than one eye on matters at The Oval, Lancashire know they must match Surrey's result."