Emilio Gay posted a dogged fifth half-century of the season on a tough day for batting at the Ageas Bowl.

Northamptonshire were forced to follow on after suffering a 225-run first-innings deficit, but Emilio Gay’s excellent season continued with a classy 74 as the visitors ended the day 153 for three – 72 runs behind.

After a fair batting day on Day 2, conditions very much favoured bowling when Northamptonshire took to the middle on Day 3, with Keith Barker, Mohammad Abbas and Abbott relentless in their probing.

With such heavy rain coming overnight and in the morning, it was a testament to Simon Lee and his ground staff – along with the new outfield laid last winter – that play started only 45 minutes later than scheduled.

When it did Hampshire needed just five overs to make their first breakthrough. Emilio Gay had been almost perfect in his defence the previous evening but clipped to square leg with only three runs added in the morning.

Josh Cobb pulled hard but found the catcher at short mid-wicket, Rob Keogh edged behind and Ricardo Vasconcelos – having unfurled a lovely cover drive for four first ball – was caught low at second slip shortly after.

After lunch, James Sales was yorked to the first ball on resumption by Barker.

Luke Procter had ground out 40 at the other end with watchfulness and skill against the moving ball, but his downfall was extra lift and movement from the pitch found by James Fuller.

Tom Taylor had attempted to dig in but edged behind, Lizaad Williams sliced to point and Ben Sanderson was bowled to wrap things up. Northamptonshire bowled out for 175 and stuck straight back in with a 225-run deficit.

A fresh innings saw a return to Gay and Will Young battening down the hatches and bedding in. The duo put on 68 in the first innings and looked unmovable when amassing 98 in the second.

Gay was particularly impressive in his fifth half-century of the campaign, refusing to get bogged down with crafty shot-making while still prizing his wicket.

Young was less fluent, with three-quarters of his four boundaries coming when the bowling erred onto his pads. He largely avoided playing at anything he didn’t need to until Ian Holland found sideways movement off the wicket to find the edge.

Procter was also victim to a pitch that started to misbehave for the pace bowlers as Barker had a ball spit violently from just back of a length to also edge behind, before Gay was given out lbw to Fuller two overs later. Bad light once again ended the day early.