Smith, Foster lead Essex to safety
Essex 281 (Foster 82, Pettini 71, Buck 5-76) and 271 for 5 (Smith 85, Mickleburgh 67) drew with Leicestershire 433 (Eckersley 110, Robson 94, Cobb 70, Smith 59, Panesar 6-111) by 51 runs
An unbeaten 41 from captain James Foster helped Essex bat out the final day of their Championship Division Two tie with Leicestershire and secure a draw at Chelmsford.
The home side resumed their second innings on 101 for 1, still 51 behind the visitors' first-innings score of 433, but reached 271 for 5 before declaring. That prompted handshakes all round and meant Essex claimed eight points and Leicestershire 11.
Jaik Mickleburgh and Greg Smith had led the resistance on day three and carried on where they left off on Wednesday, quickly adding the two runs they needed to complete a hundred partnership. Mickleburgh was the first to reach his half century - from 119 balls - with a boundary off Anthony Ireland, while Smith followed in the next over with his fifty coming from just 95 balls.
After a brief delay for rain, Mickleburgh ensured Leicestershire would have to bat again before being bowled on 67 by an inswinger from Nathan Buck with the score on 158.
Smith was looking on course for a century before a needless run-out in the last over before lunch, the No. 3 changing his mind after setting off for a run and failing to get back to his ground as Josh Cobb's throw from mid-off allowed wicketkeeper Ned Eckersley to remove the bails.
Smith's 85 was his highest score of the season but left Essex on 170 for 3 and it was 188 for 4 shortly after lunch when Mark Pettini, who had already survived a chance to midwicket, edged Ireland to first slip having made just 13.
Another rain delay cost Leicestershire five overs but the second new ball was taken and brought immediate rewards as Charlie Shreck struck with the very first delivery, tempting Ben Foakes to edge behind. That left Essex just 61 runs in front but Foster knew precisely what was required and settled down to steer his side to safety, although he still managed six fours in his 93-ball innings.
Foster, who also made 82 in the first innings, was ably supported by Kishen Velani who made 21 not out from 67 balls, while Shreck ended the day with figures of 2 for 48 from 25 overs.