Jonny Cater hit an unbeaten century and Hugo Darby fell one run short of a ton on his debut as Oxfordshire took control on day two of their Unicorns Counties Championship Western Division clash against Shropshire at Bridgnorth.
Cater made 117 not out as Oxon passed 300 for the first time this season by reaching 323-6 to establish a first-innings lead of 39 runs.
Oxfordshire then reduced Shropshire to 184-7 in their second innings, leaving the hosts with a precarious lead of 145.
Resuming on 94-2, Oxon lost Lloyd Sabin without addition to his overnight 24 when he skied a catch to James Ralph at mid-on off Gurman Randhawa.
But Cater was then joined by Durham MCCU batsman Darby, who lives in Oxford, in a fourth-wicket stand of 154.
Darby hadn’t given a chance until he reached 99 when he agonisingly chopped a delivery from off-spinner Ralph into his stumps.
His runs had come off 215 balls with fours boundaries and one six.
Jamie Perkin was bowled by Randhawa one run later, but Chad Keegan smashed 40 off 20 balls as Oxon swept past Shropshire’s 284, before the stand-in skipper was caught behind off Ralph.
It left Cater undefeated at the close, with his chanceless innings coming off 143 balls with 13 fours and one six.
Keegan then got stuck into Shropshire with the ball, bowling Steve Leach for five.
Francois Vainker trapped fellow opener Joe Carrasco lbw with his left-arm spin, before Adrian Evans and Ryan Lockley shared a stand of 102 for the third wicket.
But the breakthough came when Evans edged a delivery from 15-year-old left-arm spinner Lloyd Belcher into Cater’s gloves for 52 and Lockley followed soon afterwards for 57.
And Belcher was again involved, taking a good catch at deep square leg off Keegan.
Sabin then reacted smartly to run out Omar Ali with a throw to Cater from mid-wicket, before Keegan ripped through Ralph’s defences for his third victim to leave Shropshire 162-6.
Belcher then struck a big blow in the last over when he had Randhawa caught by Keegan at short leg.
It saw Oxfordshire’s all-time youngest player finish the day with admirable figures of 2-32 from 18.3 well-controlled overs.
Scores: Shropshire 284 & 184-7 (R Lockley 57, A Evans 52), Oxfordshire 323-6 (J Cater 117no, H Darby 99).
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