Yorkshire's spinners failed to exploit helpful conditions at Northampton yesterday, putting their side in danger of falling at the last hurdle in their bid to complete the Championship season without being beaten.

The inexperienced Mark Lawson and David Wainwright could not match the skills shown by their opposite numbers the previous day and Northants declared on 476 for nine, giving them a first innings lead of 299.

Pitch inspector, John Jameson, was called in by Lord's to see if the pitch had been suitably prepared and he decided to take no further action after seeing for himself how easy batting was made to look.

Northants resumed on 98 for two in reply to Yorkshire's 177 and it was not long before Lawson and Wainwright were in action.

But the pair of them were cannon fodder for Martin Love and Usman Afzaal, who racked up 220 together in 57 overs for the third wicket.

Love finally fell to a stinging return catch by Ian Harvey for 95 off 171 balls with 14 fours.

But Afzaal, dropped on 82 by Simon Guy off Anthony McGrath, continued to inflict heavy damage on Yorkshire's attack until he had moved effortlessly on to 157.

It was the the left hander's fourth century in successive matches and he faced 261 balls and hit 20 fours.

Afzaal sliced a drive at Deon Kruis towards point and Matthew Wood ran round from slip to hold on to a finely-judged catch.

Kruis was the pick of the bowlers and showed unflagging energy in capturing five for 75 - his fourth five-wicket haul of the season - to take his tally to 64 Championship dismissals. No wonder Yorkshire have signed him for a further two summers.

With Afzaal gone, Australian Steven Crook took over the main scoring role but the former Lancashire all-rounder was denied a maiden century when he fell lbw to Harvey for 97 off 107 balls.

Northants chose to declare at this point and their spinners soon took over the attack, Panesar achieving the breakthrough by luring Joe Sayers down the pitch to be stumped by Riki Wessels.

Wood was unbeaten on 13 at the close when Yorkshire were 22 for one and trailing by 277.

l Surrey officials have started looking towards the future following relegation from Frizzell County Championship Division One.

The former champions needed to win and earn one more bonus point against Middlesex at the Oval but their hopes were dashed early on the second day when Scott Newman played back and was trapped lbw by Yogesh Golwalkar.

With the visitors assured of safety Mark Ramprakash then struck an unbeaten double century as the hosts reached 462 for four at stumps, a lead of 58 runs.

Surrey chief executive Paul Sheldon said: ''We've seen this coming for some while but now we have to regroup, use our younger players, work hard in the winter and come back fighting next year."