Lancashire Lightning took a huge step towards reaching the Friends Life t20 quarter-finals as they beat Northamptonshire Steelbacks by three runs at Wantage Road, despite Alex Wakely's half-century.

The Lightning were restricted to 110 for nine from their 20 overs as Steelbacks captain Andrew Hall took three for 17 and Jack Brooks and Lee Daggett claimed two wickets each.

Wakely smashed 52 off 46 balls, including four fours, but Junaid Khan and Sajid Mahmood took two wickets apiece to deny the hosts.

Lancashire won the toss and chose to bat but they lost Stephen Moore for a single in the first over when he mis-timed Brooks' delivery and was caught by Hall at mid-wicket.

Lightning skipper Steven Croft went cheaply for 11 when he chipped David Lucas straight to Bilal Shafayat at mid-off.

Daggett came on in the seventh over and with his second ball Tom Smith (10) lofted him to David Willey who took an easy catch at mid-on.

Two balls later, Farveez Maharoof tried to run a quick single but Daggett picked up the loose ball and, with a direct hit at the stumps, ran out Karl Brown for 16.

Lancashire wicketkeeper Gareth Cross plundered 18 before he walked after launching Hall into the air and Rob Keogh took the catch at point and Maharoof followed for 14 when he smashed Brooks to Willey at long off.

Hall bowled Mahmood (five) before Luke Procter (12) launched the same bowler to Keogh at fine leg and Daggett clattered his delivery into Junaid's (two) off stump in the final over.

Chasing 111, the Steelbacks lost wicketkeeper Niall O'Brien for a duck in the second over when he hooked Junaid to Croft at point.

Junaid struck again in his next over when he was edged by Johan Botha (three) to Cross to reduce the hosts to 16 for two before a fifty partnership between Rob White and Wakely stabilised their innings.

White made a patient 33 off 48 balls before holing out by clubbing Mahmood to Stephen Parry at third man as the Steelbacks required a run a ball from the last five overs.

In the penultimate over, Shafayat (nine) smashed Mahmood to Maharoof who took a superb diving catch at long on.

Wakely then reached 50 off 44 balls before he was run out by Moore at square leg in the final over as the Steelbacks fell agonisingly short in the increasing gloom.