Essex 334 (Foster 132, Taylor 5-67) beat Leicestershire 138 (Ryder 5-50, Napier 3-43) and 117 (Master 3-15, Porter 3-26, Ryder 3-40) by and innings and 79 runs runs
Essex crushed Leicestershire by an innings and 79 runs inside two days in the Championship Division Two clash at Grace Road. The stunning win was the fifth in the last six games for Essex and provided a massive boost to their promotion hopes as they closed the gap on second-placed Hampshire with one match to go.
Bottom-of-the-table Leicestershire were bowled out for 117 in 38.5 overs in their second innings, with the last six wickets falling for just four runs in five overs. The humiliating defeat stretched Leicestershire's winless run in the Championship to 31 games.
Essex captain James Foster hit his second successive century to steer his side to a total of 334, giving them a first innings lead of 196. Then David Masters, Jesse Ryder and 21-year-old Jamie Porter took three wickets each as Leicestershire collapsed from 48 without loss in the space of 25 overs.
It was a hapless performance by the hosts and they now have only one game left, at Derbyshire next week, to avoid becoming the first side since World War II to fail to win a Championship game in two seasons.
Essex are at home to Worcestershire in their final game while Hampshire play Glamorgan in Cardiff as the battle for the second promotion place goes down to the wire.
Foster's 132 from 203 balls, with 19 fours and two sixes, was the cornerstone of the Essex innings that resumed on 153 for 3 at the start of the second day. Ravi Bopara shared a fourth-wicket stand of 101 with Foster before dragging the ball back into his stumps trying to cut Rob Taylor when he was on 49. But Foster continued to hold the innings together before being last man out when he was caught at mid-on off Charlie Shreck, who finished with 3 for 82. Taylor was Leicestershire's most successful bowler, taking 5 for 67.
A lead of 196 looked more than useful but even Essex could hardly have imagined the home side would capitulate in such dramatic fashion. Leicestershire reached tea at 16 without loss off seven overs and were on 48 in the 14th over when Angus Robson was lbw to Porter, playing in only his second Championship game.
Porter then dismissed Ned Eckersley and Dan Redfern in successive overs to end a spell that brought him three wickets for 26 runs in seven overs. And when Monty Panesar trapped Greg Smith lbw for 36 the collapse accelerated.
Josh Cobb hit 37 but no other batsman reached double figures as Ryder took 3 for 40 in 12 overs and Masters 3 for 15 in 11.5 overs, picking up the final wicket of Shreck with one ball to go before the extra half an hour would have been claimed. Essex collected 22 points from the game and Leicestershire three.
"We are in a good place with five wins in six games," Essex coach Paul Grayson said. "Now it's all to play for next week.''