Wes Durston (pictured) was the main protagonist with a commanding century as Derbyshire emerged with a 141 run advantage after their first innings on Day Two.
The visitors amassed 323 before reducing Essex to 46-2 at the close of play with both openers dismissed; the hosts still 95 runs behind with eight second wickets remaining.
Owais Shah (26*) and Mark Pettini (17*) will resume on Day Three looking thwart the Derbyshire dominance that has seen the visitors take a commanding position in the game.
Yesterday, Wes Durston scored his third century in as many weeks as Derbyshire continued to dominate on Day Two at Chelmsford.
Durston hit 116 as Derbyshire amassed 323 in their first innings, a lead of 141, with Essex reaching 46-2 in their second innings, 95 adrift of Derbyshire with eight second innings wickets in hand.
Earlier in the day, Derbyshire had begun positively with Martin Guptill and Wayne Madsen carrying on where they left off and chipping away at the hosts’ increasingly fragile lead.
With an hour gone in the day, Derbyshire had progressed the score to 81-1, with both players batting nicely; Guptill 34* and Madsen 33*.
However the former added just two more to his total before picking out Charl Willoughby off the bowling of former Derbyshire all-rounder Greg Smith for 36.
The dismissal of Guptill brought Durston at the crease, and the in-form batsman was out the blocks quickly, scoring at more than a run a ball for the remainder of the session.
In fact, by the time 1pm arrived, Durston had overtaken his partner in a highly productive period of cricket that saw both pass fifty with relative ease; Derbyshire reaching 157-2 at Lunch, the first innings arrears down to just 25 runs.
After enjoying the better of the first four sessions of the match, Essex fought back strongly in the afternoon session; Madsen failing to add to his Lunch score, caught at the wicket off David Masters for 50.
Dan Redfern (14) and Ross Whiteley (16) briefly looked to reassert Derbyshire’s dominance, however with both departed, the visitors were 232-5; a lead of 50.
The relative flurry of wickets did little to deter Durston however, who was looking comfortable as he approached three figures.
With Derbyshire approaching their second batting bonus point, Durston’s beautifully crafted hundred duly arrived, the former Unicorns man reaching the milestone off just 110 balls, including eight fours and two sixes.
Unfortunately, Derbyshire were unable to see the session out without the loss of a further wicket, the dismissal of David Wainwright for five ensuring that the visitors reached Tea 257-6.
The momentum that Essex had enjoyed the previous session continued in to the evening with Jon Clare (1) and Tony Palladino (0) dismissed in quick succession; a third batting bonus point looking increasingly unlikely.
Derbyshire continued to fight however and a 10th wicket partnership between Tom Poynton and Tim Groenewald of 45 handed back the initiative to the away side.
The stand, which saw Derbyshire pass 300, was thanks in the main to a hugely impressive 36 ball unbeaten 50 from Tom Poynton; the academy graduate securing his maiden First Class fifty in the process in a knock that included seven fours and two sixes.
With the lead up to 141, Groenewald was stumped off the bowling of the impressive Tom Craddock (5-96) for 14; Derbyshire all out for 323.
Facing a hefty first innings deficit, Essex’ response could not have been worse as Alviro Petersen’s bad run with the bat continued, edging to Guptill at 2nd slip off Groenewald for the second time in the game.
The situation got all the more ominous for the hosts with Tom Westley falling, caught Durston and bowled Groenewald for one to reduce Essex to 3-2, still 139 runs behind.
The experienced pairing of Owais Shah (26*) and Mark Pettini (17*) guided Essex to the close with no further loss of wickets; still 95 runs behind with eight second innings wickets in hand.
Inside Edge: 'Good day with the bat and a great 100 by Wes. Potentially game changing 50 from TP and two early wickets for Timmy G. Big day tomorrow, four wickets left and we're into their tail.' - Wayne Madsen
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