Warwickshire in charge after day of wickets
Essex 150 and 78 for 6 v Warwickshire 155
Essex and Warwickshire found themselves locked in a tense struggle at Southend on a day which saw a total of 17 wickets fell for 234 runs. After Essex had lost their final wicket in the morning to be bowled out for 150, Warwickshire responded with 155 before reducing the home side to 78 for 6 in their second innings.
Bryce McGain, in only his second and probably last County Championship game for the county, was the key figure in Warwickshire's demise. The 38-year-old Australian legspinner took 4 for 33 in 10 overs to add to his five-wicket haul in the previous match against Kent.
McGain joined Essex a fortnight ago as a replacement for Danish Kaneria. But now that Kaneria has been axed from Pakistan's touring squad, Essex are seeking to re-register him for the remainder of the summer, a move that will signal the end of McGain's spell. His last outing for the county is expected to be in the Clydesdale Bank 40 duel against Northamptonshire on Sunday.
McGain's arrival heralded the first sight of a spinner in the match in the 85th over and he struck with his first delivery to have Tim Ambrose caught behind by James Foster. He also needed Foster's help to remove Neil Carter and Imran Tahir, before which he also trapped Keith Barker lbw for 22.
Darren Maddy and Rikki Clarke grafted away for nearly half of Warwickshire's total. Maddy's innings of 39 spanned 88 deliveries while Clarke's 36 came from 80 balls. Both eventually became lbw victims of paceman David Masters who went on to finish with 3 for 51 from 19.4 overs.
Jaik Mickleburgh and Mark Pettini began encouragingly enough when Essex embarked upon their second innings, taking the total to 33 before the West Midlands county hit back strongly.
Pettini was caught behind off Boyd Rankin and Tom Westley edged Clarke to second slip before Carter struck twice in consecutive overs to leave Essex on 56 for 4. First he had Ravi Bopara caught behind and then ended Mickleburgh's resistance by trapping him leg before after the opener had reached 30.
Essex were then to suffer a double blow just before the close. Foster was superbly caught low down at first slip by Maddy to provide Chris Woakes with success and with the day's final delivery Tony Palladino was stumped when moving forward against spinner Tahir.
It all left Essex going into the third day with an advantage of just 73 and with Warwickshire nursing high hopes of claiming only their third Championship victory of the summer.