OXFORDSHIRE have a battle on their hands to avoid defeat against Devon in the Unicorns Counties Championship.

Jonny Cater’s side head into the final day of the Western Division clash on 163-3 – one run short of the home side’s first innings lead – at Sidmouth CC.

Centuries from Devon’s Alex Barrow and Peter Trego have left Oxon on the verge of their first defeat in four matches.

They helped the hosts bat out their 90 overs to finish on 375-4 for a lead of 164, before Harry Smith (75no) led the visitors’ chase.

With Devon resuming on 111-2 in reply to Oxon’s 211 all out, the visitors needed an early boost, but Barrow and Trego had other ideas.

They added a further 143 runs, before spinner Olly Clarke had Trego, whose 103 came off 126 balls and included 14 fours, caught by George Sandbach as the 185-run third-wicket stand finally came to an end.

James Burke then joined forces with opener Barrow to put on a fourth-wicket partnership of 55.

Clarke eventually trapped Barrow leg before wicket for 141, his impressive innings coming off 239 balls, including 19 boundaries, to leave Devon on 309-4.

Oxon were unable to make further inroads as Burke (55no) and captain Zac Bess (37no) saw out the 90 overs.

The visitors could ill-afford to lose early wickets and Smith and Ollie Price set about conservatively chasing down the home side’s advantage.

They put on an opening partnership of 69, before Price, whose 27 came off 71 deliveries, was caught by Jamie Baird off Dan Goodey.

Sandbach joined Smith at the crease and Oxon looked in good shape at 118-1, only for Toby Codd to take two quick wickets.

He removed Sandbach, before dismissing Richard Kaufman for a second-ball duck as the visitors slipped to 120-3.

Still trailing Devon’s first innings lead by 44 runs, Oxon needed to steady the ship.

And captain Cater and Smith, who is leading the visitors’ hopes on 75 from 218 balls, helped them to 163-3 at the close.