DEVON will go into day two against Wiltshire at Sandford boosted by a dominant final session that saw spinners Matt Golding and Jamie Stephens take control of the game.
Joe King had taken five wickets and Jake Roberts three more as Wiltshire dismissed Devon for 251 in their first innings.
Devon were bowled out 23 overs early, which gave Wiltshire plenty of time to make inroads in deficit – and at 85 for none they were going along nicely.
By last night’s close Wiltshire were 105 for five, which left them 146 runs behind with 47 overs to go.
Devon were the happier side coming off at stumps – and team chief Keith Donohue’s mood had improved considerably.
“It may be a three-day game, but things can change very quickly, as we showed in the last hour,” said Donohue.
“We showed some real aggression out there and as we built the pressure the wickets came.”
Patrick Greishaber was the first man out, caught at point playing the reverse paddle, which gave Devon debutant Stephens his first Minor Counties wicket.
Surviving opener Luke De Souza made 40 and the slow trudge off after his lbw dismissal by Golding suggested he felt he was due a few more!
Stephens struck again three overs later when John Sore given out lbw sweeping.
And the Devon fightback gathered more pace when Golding got a similar verdict four balls later against David Cope.
Eighty-five for none was now 100 for four and Wiltshire were on the back foot. When Golding had Jake Lintott caught behind, five wickets had fallen for just 17 runs added.
Donohue had been less happy at tea after Devon had just been bowled out.
Opener Max Curtis made a top score of 59 and didn’t look like getting out until he chanced his arm running a three and failed to beat the throw.
Dan Pyle (39), skipper Matt Thompson (30) and Tom Lammonby (32) all got in, got set and got out without going on to a big score. By the time Josh King swished 31 off 30 balls going in at number nine, the writing was on the wall.
Donohue felt Devon hadn’t made Wiltshire work hard enough or long enough for some of their wickets and said the problem appeared to be one of game awareness.
“There was a hundred out for the taking by someone, but no one took advantage,” said the Devon team chief.
“As well as leaving 23 overs out there, we also left a fair few runs too.
“We don’t seem to understand how the fielding side are feeling and how it grinds them down if they go periods without getting someone out.
“We made a good start – I would settle for 100 for one anytime – then we are 136 for five.
“A trait we have shown before is that a break in play breaks concentration came out again.
“To get 250 was a good effort from where we were, but had we kept going 10 overs at a time, then another ten, something in the early 300s would have been possible.”
Opener Reid Mawdsley went back when he should have gone forward and was sloping off before the umpire’s finger went past 90 degrees.
Curtis and Pyle put on 83 in the stand of the innings that ended when Pyle was the second victim for Jake Roberts (3-77).
Curtis hesitated over a third when two would have been enough and not even a ‘good luck’ message as they crossed from Liam Lewis saved him.
Lewis didn’t last much longer: he snicked a swinging half-volley from Roberts through to the keeper.
Fifth man out Matt Golding chipped a catch to mid-on to give Joe King (5-55) the first of his wickets.
Skipper Matt Thompson set the right example by batting time and his 30 came off 60 balls and included 20 in boundaries.
Lammonby got 32 in even time then perished playing back to King, who mopped up the tail.
Devon 251 (M H Curtis 59, D R Pyle 39, M W Thompson 30, T A Lammonby 32, J V King 31; J P Roberts 3-77, J M King 5-55), Wiltshire 105-5 (L J De Souza 40, P J Greishaber 47; M C Golding 3-19, J A Stephens 2-14).