Northamptonshire 444 (Levi 168) and 115 for 3 (Levi 53*) drew with Essex 276 (Ryder 87, Browne 58) and 506 for 9 dec (Westley 179, Ryder 124, ten Doeschate 76*, Kleinveldt 5-138)

Essex recorded their highest second-innings score in 13 years as their Championship Division Two match with Northamptonshire finished in a draw at Wantage Road.

Ryan ten Doeschate's unbeaten 76 guided the visitors to 505 for 9 declared, Rory Kleinveldt taking 5 for 138. After setting Northamptonshire a target of 339 in 42 overs, the hosts reached 115 for 3 before the teams shook hands with nine overs remaining.

Having taken their partnership to 258, Tom Westley and Jesse Ryder fell for 179 and 124 respectively in the morning, although three dropped catches hampered the hosts' push for victory.

Ryder resumed on 90 and reached three figures for the first time this season when his crisp drive to reach three figures burst through the hands of Olly Stone at cover.

Westley and Ryder's stand was Essex's highest for the fourth wicket since 2006 - but it was broken when Westley gloved a rising Kleinveldt delivery behind, just six short of his career best. Ryder then fell to Stone with Essex on 385 for 5.

With the lead 217 Northamptonshire might have sniffed a chance of dismissing the hosts before lunch - but ten Doeschate was dropped by Peters at first slip and James Foster edged between Kleinveldt and Alex Wakely, Steven Crook the unlucky bowler on both occasions.

Those lives allowed ten Doeschate and Foster to share a stand of 82 which ensured there would be no afternoon run chase, the former reaching a third consecutive second innings half-century in as many Championship appearances this season.

Crook returned to have Foster caught behind for 35, with Graham Napier only making a single before falling in the same manner, and Adeel Malik was trapped leg before wicket by Rob Keogh in the following over. Having taken all three wickets that fell on the third evening, Kleinveldt completed his second five-wicket haul in Northamptonshire colours as David Masters fended a short delivery to gully without scoring.

Ten Doeschate lofted Keogh for six to take Essex past 500, as the visitors recorded their highest second-innings score since the 514 for 4 declared against Glamorgan at Chelmsford in 2002, shortly before the declaration.

With Peters unable to open the batting following his earlier dropped catch, captain Wakely opened with Rob Newton and the hosts batted out the remaining of the game with just one slight wobble as two wickets fell in five balls 10 overs in. Wakely drove Reece Topley straight to cover to fall for 13 before Keogh lasted just four balls, making three before edging Napier to Nick Browne at first slip.

Ravi Bopara trapped Newton lbw for 33 but Richard Levi's 53 not out, following his first innings 168, saw the hosts to the close alongside Josh Cobb.

After their fourth home draw from four Championship games this season, Wakely bemoaned the lack of life in the Wantage Road surface.

"It wasn't ideally what we were looking for as a pitch, we wanted a pitch with a bit more life in it," he said. "A bit like the Gloucestershire game we played here early in the season, we played some good cricket and put ourselves in a good position and the pitch ultimately won.

"I've been saying for a while about the top five getting big hundreds and Rich [Levi] played outstandingly, as good as I've seen him play and we're playing pretty good cricket, people are chipping in and it's coming together. We're just lacking that win, we played the perfect game against Leicester and at one point in this game we thought we'd be pushing but each innings the pitch got better and better."

Essex head coach Paul Grayson admitted that after three consecutive Championship defeats he was happy to come away with a draw and praised the character of his side in the final two days.

"It was hard work, Northants dominated those first two days and we had to show our character these last two days to save the game," Grayson said. "Tom Westley played a brilliant knock, probably the best I've seen him play and Jesse equally as well, a slightly different type of innings as he had to play second fiddle.

"It's a draw after losing three on the trot and there's still areas for us to improve, particularly first innings scoring runs, as 276 on that surface wasn't good enough. But positive signs the last two days."