Specsavers County Championship Division 1 - day 3
Surrey 433 v Somerset 269 & 113-4

THE spectre of relegation loomed large once again for Somerset, as they struggled on day three at the Oval and Middlesex defeated Lancashire to dump the Cidermen back into the dropzone.

After their top order batsmen struggled, Tom Abell and Steve Davies saw the away side through to 113-4 at tea, after which bad light and rain intervened, causing play to be abandoned for the day.

Surrey resumed on 328-6, with the majestic Kumar Sangakkara holding court and driving the hosts past 400.

It was Abell who finally removed him for a brilliant 157, as Jack Leach made the catch on the boundary.

Rikki Clarke, the scourge of Somerset's first innings, made it to 50 before being run out by George Bartlett, and Gareth Batty and Stuart Meaker fell to Abell and Peter Trego, respectively, to leave the home side 433 all out.

Trego claimed 5-67 for the visitors, with Abell taking 2-71 and Tim Groenwald 2-107.

Somerset's second innings had a dreadful start, as Marcus Trescothick (1) departed before lunch, as he was caught in the slips by Rory Burns off Sam Curran, but youngsters Eddie Byrom (39) and George Bartlett (28) started to rebuild.

Meaker removed Bartlett and James Hildreth (11), though, and when Byrom was bowled by Batty Somerset were 98-4 - still 66 runs behind.

Abell (11no) and Davies (15no) held steady, taking their team to 113-4 at the tea interval, at which point the weather smiled on the visitors.

The early abandonment of play was good news for Somerset, who looked to be staring down the barrell just as relegation rivals Middlesex were wrapping up a 36-run win over Lancashire.

That result lifted Middlesex up to third in the Division 1 table - 20 points ahead of Somerset - meaning only a big win for the Cidermen in their showdown in Taunton next week would allow them to close the gap, were they to lose the Surrey match.

Yorkshire are also vulnerable in what is a very tight league, though, as they lost two early wickets in chasing 175 to beat Warwickshire.