Derbyshire 265 and 333-3 (Reece 157* Slater 99, Madsen 52)
Middlesex 157 and 86-3 (Olivier 2-25)
Derbyshire lead by 355 runs
Another day, another disciplined effort by Derbyshire, as they moved within seven wickets of their first home championship win in four seasons.
Seven wickets are needed tomorrow, on what looks like a full day of cricket. The wicket is not playing undue tricks, but seemed to have more in it when we bowled, especially as the visitors were shorn of the injured Harris and Roland-Jones.
That takes nothing away from Ben Slater and Luis Reece, who took their opening stand to 219, a county record against Middlesex, before Ben got bogged down on 99 and hit to cover. It takes nothing, bar a digit in the record book, from an excellent innings that continued his fine early season form and confirmed his ability to get his head down.
Reece went on and on, remaining unbeaten when the declaration came after another top innings. His success since moving from Lancashire has been entirely gratifying in all forms of the game, though not especially if you go to cricket matches with a red rose on your jumper. His short spell late in the day was also promising, bowling a full length that troubled the batsmen and got the ball to swing. I cannot think of too many opening batsmen who gave you a left-arm seam option over the years, and he is becoming a very special cricketer.
Tony Palladino was also on the mark and beat the batsmen with late movement in a typical display, but the star turn was again Duanne Olivier.
Hardus Viljoen ran in hard and took the key wicket of Robson with a big in-swinger, but he didn't appear to have full rhythm today. It will come, but when Olivier switched to the Racecourse/Media Centre End, he really seemed to slip himself. He had taken a wicket with his first ball from the City End, but from the other he looked a handful and the quickest bowler on show.
The sight of a Derbyshire quick bowler with five slips and two short legs brought back memories of Messrs Holding, Bishop and Malcolm in their pomp and Olivier responded to being pulled for four with a fine delivery that left Cartwright and gave a simple catch to Gary Wilson.
I still think the keeper is too far back and he was taking a lot of deliveries at his ankles, which seemed to confirm that, but to find faults in this performance is churlish in the extreme.
It won't be easy to take the last seven wickets tomorrow, but I was heartened by how Billy Godleman switched his bowlers around and tried them at different ends. It looked like a captain in control of things and with the confidence that he had the firepower to win a four-day match, perhaps for the first time in his captaincy.
We'll see if that is the case tomorrow, but we have had three very impressive days so far.