Rob Keogh posted a third first-class century of the season before Hashim Amla stemmed an early Surrey wobble to even up their LV= Insurance County Championship clash with Northamptonshire.
South African batter Amla ended the day unbeaten on 97 having rescued his title-chasing side for 46 for three and 80 for four.
He was indebted to Cameron Steel for sticking with him in a 115-run partnership to take Surrey to 224 for five at the close, trailing by 115 runs.
Northamptonshire suffered a morning wobble of their own as they were bowled out for 339, with Rob Keogh completing his 14th career first-class hundred and fast-bowler Kemar Roach returning five for 95.
Roach did the majority of the damage as Northamptonshire lost six morning wickets for 90 runs to get bowled out for 339 in 18 overs of play.
Emilio Gay had been caught out to a short ball with the final ball of day one after an excellent 145. Ricardo Vasconcelos didn’t learn from his team-mate’s woes when he also took on a bouncer, only to pick out long leg, following a positive run a ball 18.
Saif Zaib was adjudged lbw attempting to sweep spinner Steel’s first ball of the morning, James Sales picked out extra cover before the West Indian also had Lizaad Williams adjudged to be leg before.
Amongst the wickets, Rob Keogh had moved from 75, past his third century of the season (in 153 balls). He had been the sideshow to Gay on the first day, scoring the majority of runs behind the wicket – with 40 coming from the profitable guide to third, but became the focal point.
The right-handed batter reached 123 before he holed out to deep midwicket. It gave Roach, who sportingly shook Keogh’s hand as they converged, his second five-wicket haul of the season.
The innings concluded with Ben Sanderson swinging hard into the off-side only to be caught three-quarters of the way to the boundary. Surrey pocketed the maximum three bowling points for their title bid, with a further batting point coming before the end of the day – all of which could be key for them overcoming Hampshire for the pennant.
Surrey’s top order flattered to deceive, as apart from Amla, none of the top five reached 20. Much of this was down to the probing accuracy of Ben Sanderson and Jack White.
The former took his Championship tally to 34 for the year, the ninth best in Division One, when he thudded into Rory Burns’ pads.
But it was White who caused quick-fire harm to drop the visitors to 46 for three, albeit through loose batting after piling the pressure on. First, Ryan Patel hoicked from outside off stump to pick out long leg, before Ben Geddes flashed to a wide delivery and was caught behind.
Luke Procter produced a beauty, a ball which straightened into off stump, to castle Jamie Smith but Steel supplied Amla with a partner who would stay by his side.
Fifty came and went in 119 balls for Amla – one ball more than Gay scored his century – as he stoutly maintained his consistency – but he ran out of time to reach three figures on day two.
Steel looked equally solid for his 48 – although showed some artistic style with some drives and pulls played with a flourish – but was bowled by a beautiful off-spin delivery out of a footmarks to be beaten between bat and pad by Keogh.
More time was lost in the game with the umpires reaching for the light meters with 14 overs remaining, the players heading off shortly before 6pm.