Surrey ahead after topsy-turvy day
Promotion-chasing Surrey appear to hold the upper hand against Essex following an absorbing second day's play at Chelmsford.
Rory Hamilton-Brown’s side, who currently lie third behind Middlesex and Northamptonshire, reached stumps on 104 for four in their second innings, leading by 166.
Essex had earlier been dismissed for 253 to concede a first-innings lead of 62, but then reduced their opponents to 44 for three before Zander de Bruyn and Tom Maynard launched a blistering counter-attack.
De Bruyn was unbeaten on 40 at the close, with Maynard becoming a third victim for David Masters having contributed 27 to a stand of 60 in 8.4 overs.
After Essex openers Billy Godleman and Tom Westley had taken their partnership to 100 this morning, seamers Stuart Meaker and Tim Linley led a Surrey fightback by claiming nine wickets between them.
It was Linley who inflicted the early damage, starting immediately after the opening stand had moved into three figures. He found the edge to have Godleman caught behind by Steve Davies for 43 and point the way to a spell of 4-12 in 34 deliveries.
Owais Shah got off the mark with a six against Pragyan Ojha, the left-arm spinner, but added just one more run before being bowled by Linley.
Jaik Mickleburgh was next to go, trapped lbw without offering a stroke, and he was followed back to the pavilion by the impressive Westley.
The right-hander had laced his innings of 57 with some beautifully-timed drives among his seven boundaries until finding the hands of cover point.
Westley’s departure left Essex 135 for four and, 16 runs later, Adam Wheater drove high to mid-off to provide Ojha with his solitary success.
That left the home side needing a substantial partnership between James Foster and Ryan ten Doeschate if they were to get close to Surrey’s total of 315.
For a while they threatened to succeed, but, having added 46 in 11 overs, mainly as the result of ten Doeschate’s belligerence, Meaker embarked on a devastating spell.
The England Lions paceman claimed the remaining five wickets for 16 in 32 balls, starting with Foster, who was caught behind for 14.
Graham Napier was undone leg before for his third successive duck and, in between bowling Masters and Tymal Mills, Meaker ended the aggressive innings of ten Doeschate.
The Essex all-rounder had smashed three sixes before being trapped lbw for 56 from 51 balls.
Meaker finished with 5-66 from 16.4 overs, while Linley returned 4-48 to take his season’s championship tally to 66.
Surrey were soon in trouble when they set out to build upon their lead.
Masters struck to have Davies caught in the covers without scoring and two more wickets fell before the 50 was raised.
Hamilton-Brown chopped on facing Napier and Mark Ramprakash provided Godleman with a simple catch at short-leg off Masters.
Maynard and De Bruyn regained the momentum for Surrey with their entertaining stand, only for the former to fall lbw in the final over of the day.