Essex 206 (Bopara 69, Carter 4-34, Fletcher 4-43) and 88 for 4 require a further 353 to beat Nottinghamshire 380 (Taylor 146, Nash 51, Harmer 4-78) and 266 (Moores 87, Libby 51, Quinn 3-25)
A hobbling Tom Moores, batting with a runner, launched a blitz of sixes in a whirlwind 87 that enabled Nottinghamshire to set a beleaguered Essex a near-impossible target of 441 in 131 overs. Notts had four Essex batsmen back in the pavilion by the close.
Moores, the 21-year-old son of head coach Peter, took a particular shine to Essex spinner Simon Harmer, who he deposited all around Chelmsford in an over that went for 27. In all, Moores hit seven fours and seven sixes in an 80-ball knock, and was the only contributor to a last-wicket stand of 58 from 52 balls with Harry Gurney, who was not out nought from 13 balls.
With a series of pulls, straight drives, many lofted, and unorthodox shots out of the one-day repertoire, Moores followed up his maiden century in the last Specsavers County Championship match, at Taunton. He recorded his second highest first-class score despite turning his right ankle during wicketkeeping drills before the start of the third day.
Notts assistant head coach Paul Franks said: "We're not sure at the moment how serious it is. But we could see that he was in a bit of discomfort and would not be able to run between the wickets. He is in a bit of pain but these things can settle down overnight. He's had a fantastic season and really made his mark on the team. He's had to follow in some big footsteps.
"He has a good range of shots, and sometimes it looks like he doesn't always use them. But his ball-striking was outstanding and he managed the situation really well. Sometimes when you have a runner, batting with tail-enders chaos can ensue. But he handled it well."
Essex had agreed at lunchtime that Moores could bat with a runner, and Jake Libby duly walked out alongside him at the fall of the seventh wicket on 143. His efforts almost doubled Notts' score and put the game far beyond Essex's reach. Moores did not appear behind the stumps later with Riki Wessels taking the gloves briefly before young 2nd XI player Tom Keast arrived from Trent Bridge.
Essex's chase got off to the worse possible start as their top-order folded again. Alastair Cook went lbw in the second over without scoring, playing back to a ball from Matt Milnes that kept low, and Varun Chopra's middle stump was knocked out of the ground in Milnes's next over. To compound that, stand-in captain Tom Westley was beaten by one from Luke Fletcher that nipped back and struck off-stump.
It was Cook's second duck in nine innings for the county this summer, Westley's fifth single-figure score in 11, while Chopra has totalled just 92 from eight Championship outings.
Dan Lawrence and Ravi Bopara set about trying to save the game in the early evening, and their patient partnership reached 55 in 20 overs when Lawrence was caught and bowled by Samit Patel.
But the day belonged to Moores. At the start of his innings, he was struck firmly on the boot by Neil Wagner. It did not discomfort Moores in the least as he was soon pulling Harmer for four and sweep-swiping his first six from the following ball. He went down on one knee to cart Jamie Porter over midwicket for his second six.
But it was the return of Harmer, who went for 78 from his 15 overs, that sparked the fireworks. The first ball was thumped over long-off for six to reach a 63-ball fifty. The next was driven for a one-bounce boundary, followed by a swept four. There were further sixes, one on to the press-box roof and another to long-leg, before the over was completed with a single into the deep.
Moores's sixth six brought up the fifty partnership for the last wicket, and he added a second in the only over of the match bowled by Ravi Bopara. Moores finally departed, edging Porter behind.
The day had not started so promising for Notts when they lost nightwatchman Milnes without addition. Patel pushed forward to Coles and sent Adam Wheater tumbling to his right to take the catch low down. Ross Taylor, centurion in the first innings, lasted just seven balls second time around, bowled trying to cut.
Libby perished on 51 as Wagner found some exaggerated movement off the pitch. Switching around the wicket, the New Zealand pace bowler slanted one in to remove leg-stump.
Wagner added his second straight after lunch when he got one to climb and take the edge of Wessels's bat. Billy Root had just reverse-swept Harmer for four to reach 29 when he popped the next ball into Cook's hands at third slip. But the Tom Moores show was about to begin.