Essex 154 and 265 for 4 v Nottinghamshire 180

Maurice Chambers returned career-best figures to inspire a fine fightback by Essex against County Championship title-chasing Nottinghamshire at Chelmsford.

The 22-year-old fast bowler finished with 6 for 68 as the visitors had to settle for a modest first-innings lead of 26 after being bowled out for 180. Then John Maunders, Jaik Mickleburgh and Matt Walker built upon his fine work by scoring half-centuries as Essex reached the close on 265 for four to establish an overall advantage of 239.

After Nottinghamshire had resumed on 126 for 5, Chambers was soon adding to his list of victims as he again bowled with plenty of hostility that unsettled the batsmen. In the course of four overs he got rid of Chris Read and Paul Franks - both caught behind by James Foster, before bowling Andre Adams.

Danish Kaneria brought the innings to a close by getting rid of Luke Fletcher and Charlie Shreck in the same over, but not before Alistair Brown had taken Nottinghamshire into the lead. When the innings ended Brown was left stranded on 50, an entertaining effort that spanned 64 deliveries and included eight fours.

Billy Godleman was caught in the gully off Shreck before Essex cleared the arrears but then came two century partnerships that enabled them to seize the initiative. The first featured Maunders and 20-year-old Mickleburgh, both of whom drove with increasing assurance against bowlers who rarely found the sort of swing they had done on the opening day.

Their partnership of 104 was only broken following a poor stroke by Maunders who, after making 70, followed a Shreck delivery down the leg side and glanced an easy catch to wicketkeeper Read. But if Nottinghamshire were hoping that success would signal a change in their fortunes, they were sadly mistaken.

The departure of Maunders only heralded the arrival of Walker and he and Mickleburgh were to assert their authority with a stand of 106 in 21 overs. It was broken when Mickleburgh was within sight of the second century of his career. He had reached 91 with the help of 14 fours when he was trapped lbw by spinner Samit Patel.

Walker, who at the interval was awarded his county cap, went on to make 70 before he was dismissed just before the close when Alex Hales brought off a fine diving catch in the slips to provide Franks with success. Even so, Essex will enter the third day confident that they can build upon their day's work to claim only their second championship victory of the campaign.