A thrilling final day is in prospect at Trent Bridge, where both Nottinghamshire and Middlesex will be eyeing up the possibility of snatching a victory in their LV= County Championship match.
The visitors reached the close of the third day on 220 for five, an overall lead of 333.
Notts had been bowled out for 392 in their first innings, with Samit Patel making 77 and Riki Wessels, 71.
Tim Murtagh had been largely responsible for enabling Middlesex to grasp a first innings advantage with figures of six for 93
At one stage, after tea, Middlesex had stumbled to 140 for five but an unbroken sixth wicket stand of 80 put the visitors back in the ascendancy.
Nottinghamshire’s director of cricket, Mick Newell admitted: “In terms of actually winning the match the last two hours may have seen that slip away from us. A lot, though, will depend on how Middlesex bat tomorrow.
“I don’t expect them to declare now and I think by the time they do declare they will have batted themselves into a position where they can’t lose and it will be very much down to us to bat all day then.”
“If we had restricted the chase to 350 or less we would very much have been in with a chance of winning the match.”
The day began with Nottinghamshire on 258-4 in their first innings, still 247 behind Middlesex and 98 away from saving the follow-on.
Samit Patel’s partnership with Riki Wessels had already materialised 94 and looked to have taken Notts a long way on their road to survival but 9 balls into the day Patel (77) casually flicked Toby Roland-Jones off his hips and into the hands of Steven Finn at deep square leg.
Although the floodlights were then switched on, conditions deteriorated and the umpires took the players off after only four overs had been completed.
After a 15-minute stoppage the players returned and Middlesex were soon accepting the second new ball. Wessels and Chris Read were soon enjoying its hardness and both peppered the shorter offside fence as Finn proved to be a little expensive from the Radcliffe Road end.
Wessels’ sixth boundary took him to fifty (135 balls), the fourth time he had passed the landmark this season.
Read kept his sequence of reaching double figures in every single first class innings this season alive, getting there for the 16th time in a row.
The 50 partnership was brought up from just 70 deliveries, with Finn, in particular coming in for the bulk of the punishment. Wessels nonchalantly pulled the England international for six in the 89th over, to leave the big pace bowler nursing figures of 19-0-95-1.
At around 12.35pm the light again worsened and the umpires again called a cessation in play and headed off for an early lunch.
Beginning again, still 181 adrift, Notts ran into difficulties during the early stages of the afternoon. Read (32) hit both Roland-Jones and Murtagh for boundaries, before losing his middle stump to the latter.
The scoreboard was on triple Nelson at the time and the curse remained as Peter Siddle (0) tickled his first ball through to John Simpson.
Luke Fletcher managed to keep out Murtagh’s hat-trick ball and went on to play an innings of some substance to see Notts past the follow-on mark.
His importance increased with the departure of Wessels (71), who was magnificently caught, one-handed, by a diving Dawid Malan at second slip, off Roland-Jones.
Andre Adams (12) adopted his usual aggressive approach, hitting both of his first two deliveries for six – clubbing Roland-Jones back over the bowler’s head and then lifting Murtagh over deep midwicket.
Murtagh struck back, taking a fifth wicket in an innings for the 24th time in first class cricket, as Adams hoisted straight up in the air, and back down into Simpson’s gloves.
The follow-on and fourth batting point had been secured by this stage and the last pair plundered 28 together before Fletcher (42) was taken on the deep midwicket fence, to give Murtagh his sixth.
Harry Gurney (3 not out) had scored his first runs at Trent Bridge since last August after making pairs in his last three matches on the ground.
With 64 overs left to bat in the day Middlesex began again with a lead of 113. Malan (15) was first to go, having his off peg flattened by Gurney and then another positive start by Chris Rogers (48) was terminated by a Wessels slip catch off Adams.
A testing spell from Siddle brought him two post-tea wickets. Eoin Morgan (20) was caught behind and Neil Dexter (29) bowled.
Joe Denly (19) was unfortunate when he was next to go, run out at the non-strikers end as the bowler, Gurney, finger-tipped a John Simpson drive onto the stumps.
Simpson (44 not out) and Paul Stirling (39 not out) consolidated Middlesex’s position as the late evening sunshine broke through to extend the lead beyond 300 and much will now depend on the timing of their declaration on the final morning.