Norwell's second burst sees Gloucestershire take charge
Essex 159 and 91 for 4 (Norwell 3-18) lead Gloucestershire 245 (Handscomb 66, Dent 57, Porter 4-59) by five runs
Liam Norwell made a telling impact in the second innings against Essex to leave Gloucestershire on top at Chelmsford. The hosts started their second innings trailing by 86 runs after the visitors were bowled out for 245, and Norwell struck three times in 11 balls before Essex closed on 91 for 4.
Norwell's burst followed his first-day rampage of four wickets in 16 balls. He was at it again on Monday. First, the right-arm paceman ended a promising stand when he had Nick Browne neatly snapped up at second slip by Chris Dent with the score on 42. He then forced Jaik Mickleburgh to play on for 31 before 17-year-old Dan Lawrence was done for pace and trapped lbw with the total on 52.
Just before the arrears were cleared, Jesse Ryder drove against Matt Taylor to mid-off leaving James Foster and Kishen Velani to concentrate on defence before bad light curtailed play seven overs early.
The day's early honours went to Essex after Gloucestershire had resumed at a healthy 77 without loss. But Will Tavare was bowled by Jamie Porter for 32 without addition to the total and in his next over, the pace bowler had Gareth Roderick well caught by wicket-keeper Foster diving to his left.
In the end, the visitors were indebted to Dent and Peter Handscomb for their useful lead. Opener Dent made 57, containing eight boundaries before he was caught in the slips off the medium-paced Ryder, while Handscomb put together a well-contained 66. He reached his half-century by pulling Ryder over square leg for six, a landmark reached in 77 balls and also containing seven fours. His innings was eventually cut short by the impressive Porter who ended with 4 for 59 from 20 overs.
Much is likely to rest on Foster if Essex are to make a real fight of it and he has underlined his determination to do so. Normally a batsman with aggressive instincts, the home skipper has so far defended resolutely in scoring just 13 from 72 deliveries. Velani has proved just as stubborn while gathering three singles from 30 balls, the pair having added only six in eight overs.
Essex will have to display a more positive intent on Tuesday but it will not be easy to score freely on a pitch which is still giving seamers assistance with its occasional awkward bounce.
"It's gone pretty well for me in this match," Norwell said. "As a unit, our bowlers put a bigger focus on hitting our fuller lengths and its a bit green on top which gives some assistance. Luckily enough, I managed to pick up some wickets but it was a real good team effort, we bowled good areas and I think we deserve to be in the position that we are."
Essex paceman Jamie Porter who returned figures of 4 for 59 added: "I felt that I have bowled well without too much reward in the last couple of games but I felt that there were a few wickets around the corner so it was nice to cash in today.
"When we started the day today, I just thought that if I could get two or three wickets in one spell, it would open the game right up and that's what happened. We are in front now although only just but one big partnership and a useful stand elsewhere could get us a 200 lead and I reckon that might win it for us."