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).
6:04pm Tuesday 13th October 2015
CALLUM O’Dowda played 90 minutes as Republic of Ireland Under 21s lost 1-0 to Italy in a Euro 2017 qualifier.
5:10pm Tuesday 13th October 2015
Patrick Hoban scored all three goals as Oxford United's development side won 3-1 at Aston Villa.
2:36pm Tuesday 13th October 2015
Oxford United defender Freddie Grant has been loaned out to Farnborough for a month.
2:47pm Tuesday 13th October 2015
Oxford United will be backed by a sold out away end for their Sky Bet League Two clash against Leyton Orient on Saturday.
9:30am Tuesday 13th October 2015
Oxford United have made their best start to a season since returning to the Football League in 2010 and Johnny Mullins believes the squad are better-equipped to last the distance than in their previous spell at the sharp end.
8:30am Tuesday 13th October 2015
JASON Plato missed out on the British Touring Car Championship crown by an agonising four points, despite winning the season climax at Brands Hatch.
8:00am Tuesday 13th October 2015
ALEX Lynn was unable to turn a strong start to weekend into a points haul during GP2’s visit to Russia.
7:50am Tuesday 13th October 2015
JACK Biggs scored a hat-trick as Oxford Hawks fought back three times to record an epic 4-3 win at home to Lewes in South League Premier Division 1 on Saturday.
7:50am Tuesday 13th October 2015
Didcot Town joint manager Ian Concannon greeted the news that his side will host either Brentwood Town or Hoddesdon Town in the fourth qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup as a great opportunity to progress.
7:40am Tuesday 13th October 2015
Oxford University RFC take on Aviva Premiership newcomers Worcester Warriors at Iffley Road tonight (7.30).