DEVON backs were pressed firmly against the wall at the end of a day of fluctuating fortunes against Wiltshire.
Wiltshire were bowled out 208 after skipper Ed Young won the toss and opted to bat – Devon spinner Toby Codd grabbing an unexpected opportunity by taking four for 27.
Codd wasn’t in the squad picked last week, but added to it as 12th man when Alex Barrow was offered the chance to play for Gloucestershire 2nd XI.
The Bovey Tracey off-spinner expected to be drinks man at Bemerton, but found himself in the side when Liam Lewis pulled out due to injury.
Will Wade, playing on his home ground, top scored with 69 for Wiltshire. Billy Cookson made 33 – he and Wade put on 50 for the third wicket – and Mikey Reynolds (33) contributed to a stand of 47 with the local hero.
Devon would have hoped to press home their advantage on day one by making a sizeable dent in the deficit – instead they ended it 84 for five.
It was a case of unlucky 13 for Devon as stand-in opener Matt Thompson and Matt Golding went two balls apart when that was the score.
Thompson, covering for the absent Lewis, was caught in the cordon flicking outside off-stump. Golding went in much the same way.
Both wickets fell to left-armer Tahir Afridi, whose lively swing bowling was troubling the Devon batters.
Skipper Josh Bess tried to knock Afridi out of his stride by coming down the wicket to him, but the bowler saw him coming, dropped the ball a fraction short and the Devon captain gloved it through to Steve Bullen for a third catch in the slips.
That was 33 for three, although had a handful of snicks carried or not been put down it could easily have been 20 something for four or probably five.
Devon lost Jack Dart, who was bowled, and opener Tom Ansell to a catch on the third-man boundary in the time left.
Not only are Devon 124 behind going into day two, there is an injury crisis to deal with.
Dart appeared to pull a calf muscle while batting and was clearly struggling by the time he got out.
Paceman Dan Goodey only managed nine overs before a grumbling hamstring pulled him from the attack.
And Zak Bess took a direct hit on the hand while fielding and spent much of the Wiltshire innings on the pavilion balcony getting acquainted with an ice pack.
Although Devon have it all to do on day two, team chief Keith Donohue was relaxed about the situation.
“At first you think 208 all out, happy with that, but I suspect it is about par for this pitch,” said Donohue.
“They played and missed as much as we did – and scored at around the same rate of a couple an over most of the time.
“We were swinging the ball we bowled longer than you would expect.
“What we need is someone to occupy the crease the same way Wade did.
“It is going to be tough from here on in, especially as it looks like we are gong to be a batsman down.”
Wiltshire 208 (W J Wade 69, B Cookson 33, M D Reynolds 33; T R J Codd 4-27, J J Bess 3-30), Devon 84-5 (T P P Ansell 32; T G Afridi 3-37, J Goodwin 2-10). Bonus points: Devon 4, Wiltshire 3.