Mickleburgh and Masters put Essex in command
Essex 363 and 243 for 4 v Gloucestershire 264
David Masters claimed his sixth five-wicket haul of the season in an innings as Essex moved into a commanding position on day three of their County Championship Division Two clash against Gloucestershire at Colchester.
The 33-year-old fast bowler took 6 for 75 as the visitors were bowled out for 264. That left Essex with a first-innings lead of 99 and they built on that by reaching 243 for 4 in their second innings before the close.
Gloucestershire had resumed on 176 for 6 overnight and Masters was soon adding to his list of victims when he had Jack Taylor snapped up in the slips with only 13 added. And he was to bring the innings to a close by removing David Payne leg before to take his season's Championship tally to 73, more than anyone else in the country.
Ryan ten Doeschate and Graham Napier grabbed the other two wickets, the former getting rid of Jon Lewis, who scored 23 in a partnership of 32 with Richard Coughtrie to ensure his side were not asked to follow-on. Ian Saxelby had scored 27 when he was caught behind off Napier, who finished with three for 43 but no-one was able to remove Coughtrie, whose rearguard action saw him grind out 38 in 107 balls before he ran out of partners.
Tom Westley was soon scoring freely for Essex as they set about building a substantial lead. Driving confidently, he smashed seven fours on his way to 30, at which point he was well caught at mid-off by Hamish Marshall.
The tempo slackened considerably upon Westley's departure with the total on 36 - Billy Godleman needing 28 balls to reach double figures. Owais Shah was soon following Westley back to the pavilion, trapped leg before wicket by Will Gidman, paving the way for Godleman and Jaik Mickleburgh to post a stand of 67 in 17 overs.
It ended when Godleman, having batted with more fluency to gather seven boundaries in reaching 50, pushed forward against the spin of Jack Taylor and edged to slip. The tempo was to increase with the arrival of Adam Wheater, whose century on the opening day spearheaded an Essex recovery.
He struck four fours and a six whilst making 38 in a stand of 63 with Mickleburgh before he was caught on the mid-wicket boundary to give Taylor another success. Immediately afterwards, Mickleburgh completed his half-century having faced 85 balls and will resume the final day on 68 as Essex go in search of a victory needed to keep alive their slim promotion hopes.