Draw ends Essex hopes
Essex saw their slim chances of promotion all but wiped out while Derbyshire took another step towards Division One when they held out for a draw in a tense finale to the LV= County Championship match at Derby.
The visitors set Derbyshire a target of 274 in a minimum of 58 overs but the home side's chase faltered after leg-spinner Tom Craddock struck in successive overs.
Wes Durston, with 60, and Dan Redfern, who made 46, put them back in the hunt with a stand of 107 in 23 overs but Craddock took two more wickets to leave the Division Two leaders to bat out the last hour.
Nerves were jangling in the home camp at 163 for seven but former Essex bowler Tony Palladino joined Ross Whiteley and they dug in for 18 minutes to steer Derbyshire to 173 for seven before rain had the final say with six overs still to bowl.
Essex had to give themselves the best part of two sessions to bowl Derbyshire out and, although the home side set defensive fields, the runs flowed in the morning.
Essex started the day with a lead of 64 and despite losing Owais Shah in the fourth over when his miscued drive gave Palladino his 50th championship victim of the summer, Tom Westley and Mark Pettini soon had the scoreboard ticking over.
Westley twice came down the track to drive seamer Tim Groenewald back over his head for four and had scored 82 off 95 balls when he was caught behind driving at a wide ball from Mark Turner.
Pettini and Ryan ten Doeschate added 56 in 10 overs, with the former Essex skipper completing his fifty off 54 balls before he pulled Ross Whiteley to deep midwicket.
Essex had scored 158 runs before lunch and ten Doeschate and James Foster scored at six an over to add 72, with the Netherlands all-rounder hitting 52 before he edged a drive at Turner.
Foster drove David Wainwright for six to bring up his half-century off only 40 balls and then declared on 294 for five, setting Derbyshire a target which always looked at least 25 too many.
Wayne Madsen responded to the challenge by scoring 31 out of 42 in less than nine overs before he was lbw to a full-length ball from David Masters. Then when Craddock struck, the home side had some rebuilding to do.
Paul Borrington and Usman Khawaja were both stumped coming down the pitch but Durston and Redfern found the right mixture of caution and aggression to get Derbyshire back on course.
The game swung back to Essex when Redfern got a leading edge to mid-on and Craddock bowled Durston and Wainwright in the space of four balls.
When Masters had Tom Poynton caught behind with 11 overs remaining, Essex sniffed victory but Whiteley and Palladino clung on for 5.2 overs before the rain became too heavy.