Linley and Meaker boost promotion hopes
Surrey 315 and 104 for 4 and v Essex 253
After bowling out Essex for 253 to gain a first-innings lead of 62, Surrey finished on 104 four 4 in their second innings during an absorbing day's play in their County Championship match at Chelmsford.
It left the promotion-chasing visitors going into the third day 166 ahead and in a far healthier position than had seemed likely after the Essex openers Billy Godleman and Tom Westley had put together a century partnership.
Tim Linley and Stuart Meaker led the Surrey fightback, the pace pair claiming nine wickets between them. It was Linley who inflicted the early damage, starting immediately after the opening stand had moved into three figures. He found the edge to have Godleman caught behind by Steve Davies for 43 and point the way to a spell of four for 12 in 34 deliveries.
Owais Shah got off the mark with a six against Pragyan Ojha, the left-arm spinner, but added just one more run before being bowled. Jaik Mickleburgh was next to go, trapped lbw without offering a stroke and he was followed back to the pavilion by the impressive Westley. The right-hander had laced his innings of 57 with some beautifully timed drives among his seven boundaries until finding the hands of cover point.
Westley's departure left Essex 135 for 4 and 16 runs later, Adam Wheater drove high to mid-off to provide Ojha with his solitary success. That left the home side needing a substantial partnership between James Foster and Ryan ten Doeschate if they were to get close to Surrey's total of 315.
For a while, they threatened to succeed but having added 46 in 11 overs, mainly as the result of Ten Doeschate's belligerence, Meaker embarked on a devastating spell. In it, he claimed the remaining five wickets for 16 in 32 balls, starting with Foster who was caught behind for 14, a contribution spanning 32 deliveries.
Graham Napier was undone leg before for his third successive duck and in between bowling David Masters and Tymal Mills; he ended the aggressive innings of Ten Doeschate. The Essex all-rounder had smashed three sixes among his 10 boundaries before being trapped lbw for 56. Those runs arrived in 51 balls whilst Meaker finished with figures of five for 66 from 16.4 overs.
Linley returned figures of 4 for 48 and taking his season's Championship tally to 66. Surrey, however, were soon in trouble when they set out to build upon their lead. David Masters struck to have Davies caught in the covers without scoring and two more wickets fell before the 50 was raised.
Rory Hamilton-Brown chopped on against Napier with the total on 35 and nine runs later, Masters had Mark Ramprakash popping-up a simple catch to Godleman at short leg. However, Tom Maynard and Zander de Bruyn put together an entertaining stand of 60 in only seven overs before Maynard was trapped by leg before by Masters in the final over of the day.