James Bracey scored an excellent century – his third in as many first-class matches – but Yorkshire remain on course for victory over Gloucestershire after three days at Bristol.
Steve Patterson and co were made to work hard for their rewards during the third day at the Seat Unique Stadium, where they claimed a lead of 149 before lunch and reduced the hosts’ second innings to 84-4.
But England Lions left-hander kept his side afloat with an unbeaten 112 to take their close of play score to 253-6 from 84 overs, a lead of 104.
Make no mistake, Yorkshire are not home and dry yet in this fixture. There is plenty of work still to do. They are, however, in the ascendancy.
Bristol-born Bracey, 24-years-old, played two Test Matches against New Zealand last summer without making an impression behind the stumps or with the bat.
But, in the last six months, he has done exactly that.
He scored a century for the Lions against Australia A in Brisbane in December before adding another in the first innings of last week’s Championship draw at Northampton.
Yorkshire started day three on 334-8 in their first innings, a lead of 107, and they lost both Steve Patterson and Haris Rauf bowled by Ajeet Singh Dale as they added another 42 runs.
Jordan Thompson finished unbeaten on 42 as seamer Singh Dale finished with 4-72.
On a pitch which has provided excellent balance between bat and ball – good pace, a bit of uneven bounce but by no means a minefield – Yorkshire knew they would have to work hard for reward as Gloucester began their second innings.
And they chipped away at the wickets.
They claim two before lunch and three during the afternoon as the visitors reached 56-2 and 162-5 respectively – a lead of 13 at tea.
Patterson, the pick of the bowlers with 2-31 from 15 overs, claimed a wicket either side of lunch, added to success for Pakistan overseas quick Rauf, Matthew Fisher and the off-spin of Dom Bess.
Fisher claimed the opening Gloucester wicket in the third over when he bowled Ben Charlesworth through the gate – 4-1.
And when Patterson angled one in which nipped away against another first-innings centurion Marcus Harris, Harry Brook held on at first slip as the score fell to 36-2 in the 12th over.
At that stage, a three-day victory came into view. However, Bracey had other ideas.
The one-time England Test wicketkeeper-batter drove well through the covers and later worked Rauf off his hip to reach a 102-ball half-century.
Rauf had bowled home captain Graeme van Buuren around his legs as the South African shuffled too far across and Patterson had Miles Hammond caught at first slip pushing forwards by Harry Brook.
That left Gloucester at 84-4 in the 30th over, still 65 in arrears.
But that was when Bracey really came into his own.
The tall left-hander shared 54 for the fifth wicket with Ryan Higgins, who also made 24 like van Buuren had before he under-edged a cut at Bess behind to Harry Duke – 138-5 in the 49th.
He then shared 73 either side of tea for the sixth wicket with Tom Lace, who made 28 before being bowled by Jordan Thompson with one which shaped away and kept low.
That left Gloucester at 211-6 in the 69th over, a lead of 62.
The home side’s second innings has been similar to their first (227) when Australian Harris scored a century but nobody else made it beyond 30.
Bracey and Zafar Gohar (12) shared an unbroken 42 late in the day to push their lead beyond 100, setting the scene for an intriguing final day, which will start with a new ball only four overs old.