OXFORDSHIRE fought a strong rearguard action after conceding a big first-innings lead to Cheshire on the second day of their Western Division match at Chester Boughton Hall yesterday.

After the visitors’ young attack excelled in bringing them back into the game, Cheshire scored 108 from their last 11.1 overs to establish a lead of 148.

By the close of play, Oxon had battled their way to 168-3 in their second innings – a lead of 20.

The hosts started the day in a strong position, on 172-0 in response to Oxon’s first innings of 235.

But the morning belonged to skipper Lloyd Sabin’s team.

Seamer Joe Butcher captured two early wickets, including Callum Rowe for 95, while off-spinner Harvey Eltham claimed Danny Leech for 100 and followed it with two more.

With Ollie Clarke picking up two wickets, Cheshire slipped to 275-7 at lunch– a lead of only 40 – with just 11.1 overs left.

However, wicketkeeper Will Evans turned the game Cheshire’s way with a ferocious assault, scoring 78 from 48 deliveries with four sixes and eight fours.

Butcher’s last over went for 27 runs, as the home county raised their total to 383-9 from 90 overs

Eltham who finished with 5-124 from 28 overs, while the accurate Leo Bethell went for less than three an over.

Oxon openers Sabin and Tom Condon flourished with a stand of 88 in their second innings, before the latter departed for 41.

Later, Sabin (69) and Harry Smith departed in quick succession to leave Oxon in trouble at 120-3.

However, Jordan Garrett, whose unbeaten 14 came off 80 balls, and the more fluent Richard Kaufman (35no) took Oxon to 168-3 before bad light and drizzle brought the players off ten minutes early.