Pettini & Masters lead Essex fightback
Nottinghamshire 33 for 2 trail Essex 329 by 296 runs
Essex skipper Mark Pettini led from the front with a gutsy 96 as the County Championship strugglers compiled a useful first innings total of 329 against Nottinghamshire. Having arrived at the crease with his side in trouble at 118 for 5, Pettini put on 103 with James Foster (59) and added a further 80 for the eighth wicket with David Masters before being last to fall, with Steven Mullaney picking up a career-best 4 for 31.
Pettini batted for more than four hours, hitting nine fours and two sixes, but fell agonisingly short of his first Championship hundred in 11 months attempting to hit Mullaney to the boundary to reach three figures. Nottinghamshire had eight overs to negotiate before the end of play but lost two wickets to Masters and closed on 33 for 2, still 296 behind.
After managing only 17 overs of play on day one due to persistent rain, the hosts began the day anxious to make up for lost time and claimed two early wickets, with Matt Walker and Ravi Bopara dismissed in consecutive overs.
First Walker was lbw to a ball which swung back in from Darren Pattinson and Bopara was then trapped in his crease by Ryan Sidebottom. Ryan ten Doeschate survived one chance when on four as his edge off Sidebottom was dropped by Neil Edwards at second slip, and the Dutchman added 22 to his total before he was also lbw to Paul Franks.
Foster and Pettini showed plenty of application to stick it out until lunch and then slowly began to profit from some loose balls from the Nottinghamshire attack, who struggled with a strong cross-wind.
But soon after bringing up the 100 partnership from 182 balls, Foster's defensive push to Andre Adams flew to Edwards, who this time took the catch securely.
Graham Napier handed Mullaney the first of his four wickets, lbw playing around a straight delivery, but Masters took advantage of an edge that fell between wicketkeeper Chris Read, standing up to the stumps, and first slip, to help Pettini push the score past 300.
The final three wickets came in consecutive overs for the returning Mullaney, with Masters driving to short extra cover, Chris Wright being caught behind and Pettini edging his attempted cover drive.
Nevertheless, the visitors could be pleased with their total and their spirits would have been further lifted when Hales prodded a slower ball back to Masters, and nightwatchman Pattinson edged to Walker at second slip.