Fairbrother displays his class for Lancashire against Essex
A high-quality innings from Neil Fairbrother dominated the day's proceedings at Colchester. The left-hander underpinned his side's recovery after an indifferent start against Essex that saw opener John Crawley bowled for a duck in the second over of the day by Justin Bishop after he had won the toss.
Then Andrew Flintoff fell for 18 before Fairbrother arrived to mastermind the rebuilding operation and ease his side into a more healthy position with a chanceless century. He faced 189 deliveries and hit two sixes and 14 other boundaries and rarely offered any display of a false stroke.
The visitors, who are still threatened with relegation, were indebted to Fairbrother's third wicket partnership worth 215 with Mark Chilton to provide the substance of their innings.
Whilst Fairbrother completed the 46th first-class century of his career, his more watchful partner was dismissed for 98 having survived three chances.
Chilton's first life came with his score on 14 when Ashley Cowan spilled a chance off Ronnie Irani and he then remained at the crease when offering two catches with his score on 97.
He was dropped by Stuart Law at slip off the bowling of Peter Such and in the off-spinner's next over, he drove a ball to Stephen Peters at short leg where the ball rebounding off the fielder before 'keeper James Foster just failed to complete the catch.
However the batsman's luck finally ran out one run later when Such gained deserved reward with Cowan completing a catch at short mid-wicket to end a patient innings.
Irani, having earlier accounted for Flintoff, bowled Joe Scuderi off his pads for 14 and then ended Fairbrother's vigil when the batsman glanced the bowler down the leg side to give Foster a diving catch.
That left Lancashire on 296-5 and two runs later, Such produced a superb low catch off his own bowling to remove Graham Lloyd for nine and give the bottom of the table side their second bowling point.
Jamie Haynes and Chris Schofield avoided any further problems easing their side to their third batting point late in the day as they closed on 316-6 wickets.