Leicestershire 404 (Dexter 114, Cosgrove 74) and 111 for 7 (Dexter 48 ) lead Worcestershire 493 (D’Oliveira 138, Cox 77, Mitchell 58, Parkinson 8-148) by 22 runs
Promotion-chasing Worcestershire are closing in on a third successive win in the Specsavers County Championship despite a superb performance from Leicestershire spinner Callum Parkinson.
Leicestershire finished third day only 22 runs ahead with three wickets remaining.
The home side achieved their first objective of the day in securing maximum batting points after extending their first innings total from 270 for 4 to 493 all out despite Parkinson returning 8 for 148 from 45 overs – the best figures by a Leicestershire bowler for 16 years.
Then the new ball attack of Worcestershire skipper Joe Leach and Josh Tongue quickly made significant inroads into the Leicestershire batting line-up as their opponents, facing a first innings deficit of 89, were reduced to 10 for 4 inside five overs.
Tongue inflicted the initial damage in having Ned Eckersley and Colin Ackerman caught behind while Leach trapped Leicestershire skipper Mark Cosgrove lbw and bowled Michael Carberry after he offered no stroke.
It took Leach’s wicket tally for the campaign to 63 – just two short of his best haul last summer while Tongue now has 45 victims
First innings century-maker Neil Dexter and Aadil Ali tried to repair the damage and kept the Worcestershire attack at bay for 18 overs.
But Ed Barnard inflicted further damage as Ali was leg before after a partnership of 49 with Dexter who then sucumbed lbw to Ravichandran Ashwin for 48.
The Indian spinner then struck in the final over of the day as Ben Raine edged to Daryl Mitchell at second slip.
Worcestershire began this match 36 points ahead of nearest challengers Northamptonshire and Sussex, who both have a game in hand, and are on course for a maximum points haul from this game to strengthen their hopes of a return to Division One.
Parkinson’s return was the best by a Foxes bowler since paceman Devon Malcolm‘s 8 for 63 against Surrey at Grace Road in 2001.
The former Derbyshire player quickly added to his overnight three wickets by having nightwatchman Tongue stumped and Brett D’Oliveira caught and bowled off a leading edge after adding 17 to his overnight 121.
The opening batsman struck one six and 13 fours in his 188 ball innings.
But then the Worcestershire middle and lower order again came to the fore in ensuring all five batting points were safely secured.
Ben Cox had a let off on nine when Eckersley at second slip spilled a straightforward chance off Dieter Klein.
It proved a costly miss for Leicestershire as the wicket-keeper batsman and Ashwin plundered 67 in 10 overs mainly from the second new ball.
Parkinson returned to the attack and accounted for Ashwin who was caught low down at cover.
Barnard also provided a staunch ally for Cox in adding a further 63 and passing 500 Championship runs in a season which has also yielded 43 wickets.
He was eventually caught behind off Ben Raine and then Parkinson tidied up the innings as Leach was caught and bowled and Cox’s fine knock ended on 77 from 107 balls as he holed out to mid off.