Somerset claim draw at Middlesex
Talk of a thrilling finish at Uxbridge came to nothing on Thursday as Somerset comfortably batted out for a draw against Middlesex after being set an improbable 390 for victory in two sessions and 20 minutes.
Middlesex, almost certainly mindful of last month's damaging loss to Notts at Trent Bridge following a more generous declaration, gave themselves only 72 overs to try to take 10 wickets but never seriously threatened to succeed on a pitch playing too few tricks.
Somerset, with Nick Compton again defying his former county by adding an unbeaten 83 to his first innings 94, finished on 203 for four.
Both teams remain in LV= County Championship title contention but a win for either side here would have been like gold dust.
If the final morning - during which Middlesex scored 146 runs in 22 overs before declaring, just before lunch, on 315 for five - went pretty much according to plan from a team point of view, the same could not be said for Nick Gubbins.
Having talked the previous evening about his determination to turn 50s into 100s, the 20-year-old opener advanced purposefully from 67 to 95 - only to be run out within touching distance of a maiden Championship century in just his second match.
Having worked George Dockrell into the leg side and set off for a single, he found himself stranded more than halfway down the pitch when partner Paul Stirling sent him back. The throw went to Dockrell but the bowler still had time to get the ball to the other end before Gubbins could reach safety.
A record of three half-centuries in four innings still represents a fine start for Gubbins but the opener was clearly less than thrilled as he marched off to sympathetic applause.
Stirling was involved in a second run out - with Neil Dexter the victim this time - but the Irishman did his bit with the bat by scoring an unbeaten 60 off 45 balls.
With Eoin Morgan having made a sprightly 62, from 94 deliveries, it was clear from start of play on the final morning that Middlesex were planning a declaration.
Timing was the difficult bit and, in the end, the hosts batted on for 90 minutes to make the target for Somerset look truly daunting, even given the quickness of the Uxbridge outfield.
In theory, with Marcus Trescothick at the top of the order and bags of batting to follow - even without Craig Kieswetter, who has missed this match because of a family bereavement - an asking rate of nearly five and a half runs per over did not look completely out of the visitors' range.
But when Trescothick departed early, edging one from Tim Murtagh that left him outside off stump, the prospects of Somerset embarking on an exciting chase plummeted to zero.
Chris Jones and Compton steadied the ship for an hour before the introduction of Toby Roland-Jones reignited interest.
In his first over, he made one leap to find the shoulder of Compton's bat with the ball only just clearing gully.
Then in the space of 11 deliveries, he had Jones well taken at second slip before producing a beauty which squared up Alviro Petersen and found the outside edge again.
Another wicket then might have changed the picture. Instead, James Hildreth shared in a stand of 93 with Compton before holing out against Ravi Patel.
Compton, though, remained unbeaten, having faced 136 balls by the time the draw was agreed with 15 overs unused.
Chris Rogers admitted that last month's defeat to Notts played a part in Thursday's declaration.
"Maybe we could have pulled out a bit earlier but we had a bad loss a few weeks ago and that was in the back of our minds," he said.
"But we are still in the c hasing group, we've got Yorkshire next week and if we can beat them we will be right up there. That is a big game for us."
Trescothick admitted he understood Middlesex's thinking, adding: "They know this ground and realise how flat the pitch gets.
"We tried to get through the new ball and wanted to build partnerships but we lost wickets early.
"But it was always going to be a tough chase."