Essex 322 and 306 for 4 v Leicestershire 274

Billy Godleman hit a career-best 130 as Essex moved into a commanding position at the end of the third day of the County Championship match against Leicestershire at Grace Road. Essex closed on 306 for 4 in their second innings to lead by 354 runs, leaving bottom of the table Leicestershire facing an uphill battle to save the game on the final day.

Godleman and Tom Westley laid the foundations with an opening partnership of 104 and then Owais Shah hit an unbeaten 84, joining Godleman in another century stand for the second wicket.

It completed a day totally dominated by Essex after seamer David Masters had claimed Leicestershire's last three wickets in the morning session to finish with 5 for 67. The home side, who began the day on 245 for 7, were dismissed for 274 giving Essex a first-innings lead of 48.

Masters made short work of the Leicestershire tail - having Claude Henderson caught at slip, trapping Tom New lbw and then dismissing last man Harry Gurney, who was caught behind by wicketkeeper James Foster.

From that point on Essex took total charge as a lacklustre home attack failed to make any inroads into the visitors' batting line-up. Godleman and Westley had cruised to a lunch score of 55 in the first 16 overs with very few alarms and soon after the interval Westley reached his half-century off 55 balls with nine boundaries.

Westley was the dominant partner and when he and Godleman put on 100 it was the first century opening partnership for Essex for two years. But it was finally broken in the 34th over when Gurney breached Westley's defences to bowl him as the batsman went onto the back foot. Westley was out for 67 off 95 balls having hit 11 fours.

Shah then joined Godleman in another big stand with neither batsmen looking like being out against a toiling Leicestershire attack. Godleman reached his half-century off 139 balls and after the tea interval Essex looked to accelerate, with Nadeem Malik conceding 23 runs in his first three overs after the break.

Shah, looking in confident form, went to his 50 off 76 balls and the next landmark was Godleman's first century of the season, which arrived off 225 balls and contained 12 boundaries. He celebrated with a six off Jigar Naik but as Essex looked for quick runs in the closing overs the off-spinner claimed three quick wickets.

He had Godleman lbw to end a stand of 177 off 43 overs, trapped Ravi Bopara lbw as he tried to sweep and then had Matt Walker caught at long on. But it was all too little, too late for Leicestershire, who now face a difficult final day as they try to save the game.