Derbyshire lower order defy Essex fight back
Essex 179 and 24 for 0 v Derbyshire 288
Derbyshire's lower order defied the Essex attack to give their side the edge on day two of their County Championship match at Derby. David Masters had reduced the hosts to 123 for 5, still 56 runs behind, but spirited batting from Greg Smith, Dan Redfern and skipper Luke Sutton earned Derbyshire a first-innings lead of 109.
Smith's 35 from 41 balls was backed up by Redfern's 34 and Sutton's 43 as the last five wickets added 165 to lift Derbyshire to 288. Essex had to face an awkward 10 overs before the close but Alastair Cook and Jaik Mickleburgh survived to reach 24 at stumps - 85 runs adrift.
They would have fancied their chances of earning a slender advantage when Masters, who finished with five for 71, struck twice after rain had held up play, but he lacked support. Masters removed nightwatchman Tony Palladino and Wes Durston in the space of three balls to reduce Derbyshire to 76 for 4, but South Africa pace bowler Lonwabo Tsotsobe again struggled.
He failed to find a consistent line and also bowled eight no-balls in a total of 52 extras which was the highest score in the home side's innings. He did end opener Wayne Madsen's patient innings of 51 and must have been close to getting Smith leg before wicket first ball, but there were too many loose deliveries from an international bowler.
Masters was easily the pick of the bowling and, after trapping his former team mate Palladino lbw, he had Durston caught at second slip for a duck. Madsen and Redfern occupied the crease for 16 overs until Tsotsobe thudded a full-length ball into Madsen's front pad to have the opener trapped lbw for 51 from 132 balls.
But Smith's counter-attack seized the initiative and, although Derbyshire were still four runs behind when Tim Phillips beat his forward push, Sutton and Azeem Rafiq added to the visitors' frustration.
Their partnership of 55 in 16 overs meant Derbyshire's lead was already significant in a low-scoring contest and, although Sutton's 81-ball innings ended when he drove at a wide one from Ravi Bopara, Rafiq and Tim Groenewald added another 27 runs.
Essex were left with a testing session to negotiate and Mickleburgh had a scare when he survived a big shout for a catch behind off the first ball of the innings but he and Cook dug in to deny Derbyshire a successful end to a good day.