Josh Dell carried his bat for a superb 131 not out to earn Worcestershire Seconds a first innings lead in the Championship encounter with Lancashire at Northern CC before skipper Joe Leach made a treble breakthrough with the new ball.

Dell batted for six and a half hours and his marathon 266 ball knock contained eight boundaries.

He helped rescue his side from 36-4 overnight in reply to Lancashire’s first innings total of 226 all out.

With useful contributions down the order, Dell was able to steer Worcestershire to 251 all out and a lead of 25.

Leach then got to work with the ball and his opening spell produced figures of 6-4-4-3 as Lancashire closed in their second innings on 78-4 from 29 overs.

It was another encouraging sign that the County’s club captain is making good progress in his return to action after a stress fracture of the back.

Dell resumed this morning on 12 not out and the first resistance came in partnership with Charlie Clist (24) in a partnership of 56 in 22 overs.

Triallist Josh Breed (16) helped him add a further 43 for the fourth wicket before he became one of four victims of Richard Gleeson.

Another triallist in Ari Karvelas chipped in with a useful 17 and then the last two wickets added 67 runs.

Dell scored all but two of the runs off the bat in those partnerships with Riecko Parker-Cole (0) and Mahaaz Ahmed (2) but the duo held out for 21 and 39 balls respectively to help Worcestershire move past the home side’s total.

When Lancashire batted again, Leach struck with the third ball of the innings when he bowled George Balderson for a duck.

He dismissed Jamie Crawley (5) in the same fashion and trapped Sam Perry (6) lbw to reduce Lancashire to 17-3 and follow on from his first innings figures of 10-2-18-2.

With Breed accounting for George Lavelle (14), it was left to Nick Greenwood (32 not out) to steer Lancashire to the close and overall advantage of 53 heading into the final day.