Masters maintains Essex charge
David Masters claimed his sixth five-wicket haul of the season as Essex moved into a commanding position on day three of their LV= County Championship Division Two clash against Gloucestershire at Colchester.
The 33-year-old fast bowler took 6-75 as the visitors were bowled out for 264, a first-innings deficit of 99.
Essex extended their advantage to 342 by reaching 243 for four in their second innings, with Billy Godleman and Jaik Mickleburgh each hitting half-centuries - the latter unbeaten.
Gloucestershire resumed on 176 for six and Masters was soon adding to his list of victims when he had Jack Taylor snapped up in the slips.
He brought the innings to a close by removing David Payne leg before, taking his season’s championship tally to 73 wickets, more than anyone else in the country.
Ryan ten Doeschate and Graham Napier grabbed the other two wickets, the former getting rid of Jon Lewis, who scored 23 in a partnership of 32 with Richard Coughtrie to ensure his side were not asked to follow-on.
Ian Saxelby had scored 27 when he was caught behind off Napier, who finished with 3-43, but no-one was able to remove Coughtrie, whose rearguard action saw him grind out an unbeaten 38 off 107 balls.
Tom Westley was soon scoring freely for Essex as they set about building a substantial lead. Driving confidently, he smashed seven fours on his way to 30, at which point he was well caught at mid-off by Hamish Marshall off Saxelby
The tempo slackened considerably upon Westley’s departure with the total on 36.
Owais Shah followed Westley back to the pavilion when he was leg before to Will Gidman, paving the way for Godleman and Mickleburgh to post a stand of 67 in 17 overs.
It ended when Godleman, having batted with more fluency to gather seven fours in reaching 50, pushed forward against the spin of Taylor and edged to Marshall at slip.
The tempo was to increase with the arrival of Adam Wheater, whose century on the opening day spearheaded an Essex recovery.
He struck four fours and a six in making 38 in a stand of 63 with Mickleburgh before he was caught by Lewis on the midwicket boundary off Taylor.
Immediately afterwards, Mickleburgh completed his half-century off 85 balls and will resume the final day on 68 as Essex go in search of the victory they need to keep alive their slim promotion hopes.