Middlesex edge ahead
Middlesex established a first-innings lead over Essex on day three of their LV= County Championship Division Two clash but only 31.5 overs were possible in between stoppages for rain at Chelmsford.
Tim Murtagh picked up his first five-wicket haul of the season as Essex were bowled out for 291 - 94 runs shy of Middlesex’s first-innings total.
Chris Rogers then pummelled 32 from 25 deliveries as Middlesex added a further 39 for the loss of Sam Robson.
Essex had resumed on an overnight 235 for seven and the first two wickets were picked up by fast bowler Murtagh.
First he produced a delivery that nipped back to trap Essex captain James Foster lbw without offering a stroke, but not before the batsman had advanced from 44 to 58 to register his fourth half-century of the summer.
Foster's fine effort contained six boundaries and his dismissal effectively ended Essex’s hopes of getting within touching distance of Middlesex's 385 total.
David Masters provided Murtagh with his second success. He stayed long enough to find the boundary with his only scoring stroke before putting up an easy catch to Dawid Malan at short extra cover.
Tim Phillips produced a few aggressive strokes with Reece Topley as his partner but was unable to take Essex to a third batting point.
They were still nine short when Anthony Ireland removed Phillips for 28 as wicketkeeper John Simpson claimed his third catch of the innings.
Murtagh finished with figures of 5-82 as Middlesex established their useful advantage.
When they went in again they had moved to 34 when Ravi Bopara struck in his opening over by bowling Robson, a century-maker in the first innings, with a ball that kept low.
But Chris Rogers had moved to 32, containing six fours, as he and Ireland reached the close without further mishap.