Joe Leach fell just 10 runs short of a deserved second hundred of his career as he and Ed Barnard led a Worcestershire fightback on day three of the Specsavers County Championship clash with Leicestershire at New Road.

Worcestershire had resumed on 193-7 – still needing another 65 to avoid the possibility of being asked to follow on in reply to Leicestershire's 407.

Leach and Barnard counter-attacked in fine style in adding exactly 100 off 21.2 overs as Worcestershire eventually totalled 349 all out.

Then Leach showed his prowess with the ball in removing Angus Robson and Neil Dexter in the first two overs of his spell.

But Paul Horton (75) and Mark Cosgrove (58) added an unbroken 129 in 38 overs as Leicestershire closed on 172-2 – an overall advantage of 230.

Leach had scored his maiden Championship hundred against Gloucestershire at Cheltenham College three years ago.

He looked set to reach three figures on this occasion until falling shortly after lunch but had the consolation of knowing his knock had brought Worcestershire back into the game.

Barnard, who had scored a career best 73 in the previous Championship game at Derby, again showed his potential.

He had set the tone for the morning session with three boundaries in an over from Neil Dexter taking Worcestershire to a first batting bonus point.

The 50 stand stand came up in 11 overs and a cover-drive for four by Barnard off former Worcestershire paceman Richard Jones.

Barnard ran a delivery from Charlie Shreck off the face of the bat to the third man boundary to take Worcestershire past their first target of 258.

Then Leach's half century was brought up with a steer to third man off Ben Raine.

It was Leicestershire skipper Mark Cosgrove who broke the stand when Barnard, having made 42 off 67 balls with eight fours, was caught off a low full toss at mid wicket.

Leach and Jack Shantry steered the home side past the 300 mark in the 90th over. By lunch Leach had moved onto 72 and Shantry 10 out of 322-8 from 96 overs.

The former was the main aggressor after lunch and dominated a stand of 48 in 11 overs with a resolute Shantry.

But on 90 Leach flicked Clint McKay off his legs and Charlie Shreck at deep fine leg held a comfortable catch.

The innings ended when Kyle Abbott (5) was caught at slip by Sam Robson off McKay (4-59) to leave Shantry unbeaten on 13 from 42 balls.

Leicestershire reached 39-0 in their second innings although not without the occasional alarm.

Paul Horton edged one Abbott delivery just short of first slip and then another ball took off against Robson and flew through head high to Ben Cox.

But then Leach came into the attack and immediately dismissed Robson (15) who cut to D'Oliveira at point.

Then the 25-year-old had Dexter (2) superbly stumped by Ben Cox – further testament to the excellent form he has been in behind the stumps this season.

By tea Paul Horton had moved onto 36 out of 67-2 with Leach having figures of 2-14 from five overs.

Abbott again bowled well for no tangible reward after the interval as Horton reached his 50 off 103 balls with seven fours.