Essex close in as Porter bags another five
Northamptonshire 119 (Rossington 67*, Porter 5-46) and 148 for 4 (Duckett 58) trail Essex 441 for 8 dec (Bopara 76, Sanderson 5-108) by 174 runs
Nineteen wickets - as well as some sleet - fell on a remarkable day at Chelmsford, to leave Essex requiring just six Northamptonshire scalps for a second victory of the season. Jamie Porter claimed seven wickets, including career-best figures of 5 for 46, to back up a dominant position created by Essex's batsmen.
Given half an hour to get stuck into Northamptonshire's top order before lunch, Ryan ten Doeschate having declared Essex's first innings on 441 for 8, David Masters and then Porter ripped through the batting to leave them 6 for 4 at the interval. Northamptonshire recovered, partially, through an unbeaten 67 from Adam Rossington but could only limp to 119, a deficit of 322.
Masters began with a double-wicket maiden. Ben Duckett, fresh from his unbeaten 282 against Sussex, pulled his second ball straight to deep-backward square leg, then Alex Wakely edged to Tom Westley at second slip, who parried to Alastair Cook at first.
Porter, who now has seven wickets in each of his three Championship matches this year, was soon in on the act. Jake Libby nicked to Westley and Richard Levi became the third Northamptonshire batsman to depart without scoring, pinned in front with minimal foot movement. Seven balls after lunch - as Josh Cobb turned Masters to leg gully - it was 14 for 5, and a question of when Northamptonshire would follow on, not if.
In Rossington and David Murphy, Essex met resistance. The pair shared 61, with Rossington particularly impressive, pulling each of Porter and Masters for sixes. Murphy straight drove well before Graham Napier pinned him leg before.
The tail, marshalled by Rossington, wagged to add a further 44 but Porter had Rory Kleinveldt caught at second slip before sleet brought an early tea. Richard Gleeson and Azharullah fell in the same over shortly after the resumption, giving Porter his second career-best figures in consecutive matches, and Napier returned to york Ben Sanderson for the final wicket.
Second time round, Northamptonshire proved a sterner foe. Libby was tidy, while Duckett attacked - refusing to shelve the profitable pull stroke despite his earlier lapse - to share 72 for the first wicket. Duckett brought up his 50 with a fine cut, his 10th boundary, but an over later Libby turned Napier straight to square leg.
As Essex reasserted their dominance, Porter returned for one final spell, trapping both Duckett and Wakely, who was beaten for pace, lbw. After Napier dismissed Cobb, Levi played some stylish strokes to see Northants to stumps alongside the nightwatchman, Azharullah.
The first five wickets to fall in the day were Essex's. Dan Lawrence failed to add to his overnight score as he was caught at second slip off a leading edge, and an over later, Jesse Ryder was adjudged caught behind.
Ravi Bopara - who did not take the field when Essex bowled as a precaution after a knock to the knee when batting - made it through the 60s, unlike Essex's top three, but fell for 76, caught at slip off a Sanderson delivery that reared. As James Foster ramped, drove and cut his way to 36, Sanderson picked up ten Doeschate then Napier to end with figures of 5 for 108, his best for Northamptonshire.