County Championship: Middlesex close to win over promotion-chasing Glamorgan
|Specsavers County Championship Division Two, Sophia Gardens, Cardiff (day three):|
|Middlesex 384 Malan 166; Carey 4-54 & 342 Robson 142*, Simpson 56|
|Glamorgan 171 Helm 5-53 & 171-6 Hemphrey 52*, Labuschagne 51|
|Glamorgan (3 pts) need a further 385 runs to beat Middlesex (7 pts) with four wickets standing|
Middlesex are on the verge of their third win of the season after setting Glamorgan a mammoth 556 to win.
The home side stumbled to 171-6 in 66 overs, despite fifties for Charlie Hemphrey and Marnus Labuschagne.
A nagging attack on a difficult wicket claimed five lbw verdicts, with two each for Toby Roland-Jones and Nathan Sowter.
Sam Robson batted through the Middlesex innings of 343 to finish on 142 not out as the visitors opted not to declare.
Tom Helm (38) and last man Tim Murtagh (38) swung hard to increase Glamorgan's frustration and send the final-innings target ever higher, leaving Robson as the first Middlesex opener to carry his bat since Nick Compton in 2006.
Hemphrey and Labuschagne put together a second-wicket stand of 97 to frustrate the visitors, but Labuschagne's last Glamorgan knock in his current spell ended when Roland-Jones won a marginal lbw appeal.
The Australian Test player ended with 1114 runs and 19 wickets from 10 Championship matches for Glamorgan.
But a late clatter of wickets as the ball kept low on the tricky surface meant Middlesex are virtually assured of boosting their promotion challenge despite Hemphrey's lengthy vigil.
Glamorgan's Ashes hopeful Marnus Labuschagne told BBC Sport Wales:
"A very disappointing end for us, but the whole game we've probably been a bit behind the eight-ball. Charlie and myself got in but we lost a few wickets there which was disappointing.
"It's still a long way to go in the season talking about promotion, it would be awesome if we did but it's making sure we do those small things right where we've slipped a bit.
"Regardless of the format (of the Australia trial match) I can tell you it'll be competitive, you'll be getting some bouncers but it's exciting to be a part of that.
"It would be great to come back to Glamorgan, but there's so much uncertainty in the next two months, I'll just take the next (trial) game in Hampshire after being here to support the boys (on day four)."
Middlesex opener Sam Robson told BBC Radio London:
"It was a great day, coming here this morning it was good to get through the first half-hour myself, then to go on and get the hundred and have a bit of fun with 'Murts'.
"We're in a good position so hopefully we can bowl well in the morning and finish things off.
"It's tough work against the new ball because the wicket's a bit up and down.
"We weren't playing the best of cricket three or four weeks ago but it's pleasing to turn things round with a hard-fought draw at Derby, to win last week (over Gloucestershire) and to play well here is really pleasing."