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Essex 225 (Lawrence 61, Thompson 4-60) and 162 for 9 (Snater 65*, Patterson 5-46) beat Yorkshire 134 (S Cook 3-31, Snater 3-39) and 252 (Coad 69, Bean 53, Porter 4-64) by one wicket
Essex made heavy weather of chasing 162 either side of tea but Shane Snater's aggressive unbeaten 65 secured a thrilling one-wicket LV= Insurance County Championship win over Yorkshire inside three days at Headingley.
But they later slipped from 51 for two to 64 for six in a crazy 13-ball evening spell, in which veteran seamer Steve Patterson struck three times for the hosts.
Patterson, who has not been offered a new contract beyond this season, following 17 years of first-team cricket, finished with a brilliant five for 46, including the ninth wicket with the scores level.
But Snater heaved Ben Coad through midwicket to secure 20 points for his side - their sixth win of the campaign.
Snater, who also hit 46 in the first innings, successfully turned Essex defence into attack amidst a nail-biting finish. Essex are now four points behind Lancashire with two to play.
Battling Yorkshire, meanwhile, lost for the fourth time this season and are not yet out of relegation danger after only taking three points. Their position will be clearer when Warwickshire versus Somerset finishes on Thursday.
They started the day on 87 for two in their second innings, trailing by four, and were bowled out for 252 midway through the afternoon, as Critchley and Porter combined to good effect.
As impressive as Patterson was with the ball, Coad's third-day contribution was just as significant in taking this game down to the wire. But perhaps not in the way you would expect.
The new-ball seamer, who earlier in this match took his 200th first-class cricket, crashed a entertaining 69 off 70 balls with 10 fours and a six over midwicket to give himself and his bowling colleagues something to work with. He later struck twice with the ball.
Five morning wickets, including two for Critchley, left Yorkshire 158 for seven and with a lead of 69 after they resumed on 87 for two.
Young opener Fin Bean had been trapped lbw by a Porter yorker for 53, his maiden first-class fifty in only his second game.
But Coad changed things. He dominated an eighth-wicket partnership of 80 with Matthew Revis, the highest stand of the match. And his score was the highest individual score of the fixture as well.
He played a stand and deliver innings, taking the view, 'If it's up, it's off'.
He was then bowled by one that skidded through from Critchley, while Porter claimed two of the last three wickets to fall to leave Essex with 52 overs of batting to do before close.
The last of those wickets was Patterson caught behind. He had earlier received a warm ovation from the Headingley faithful as he walked to the crease. But it wasn't as warm as the one he received as he left the field to get a breather with four wickets under his belt after tea.
Given Essex's caution in the early stages of their chase, Yorkshire's hopes remained high.
Jordan Thompson had Nick Browne caught at third slip before tea and Tom Westley sliced Patterson to backward point shortly after, leaving the score at 35 for two in the 20th over.
Then came the turnaround as Patterson wheeled away from the Howard Stand End and Coad from Kirkstall Lane.
Patterson yorked Dan Lawrence playing to leg and superbly held a one-handed diving return catch later in the 26th over - 51 for four.
Coad then trapped Feroze Khushi lbw and Patterson got a flashing Cook caught at slip. Essex were six down 98 short of their target.
By now, Essex had realised they had to break the chain and started to attack. And it worked, but not before George Hill had Adam Rossington caught at short midwicket (93 for seven).
Snater powered Patterson for six over long-on and later showed finesse by twice steering Thompson to the third-man fence.
Snater, who faced 51 balls, dominated an eighth-wicket partnership of 63 with Allison and reached a 38-ball fifty, by which time Essex needed only 20 and the game was seemingly back in their control.
But Coad got Allison caught behind and then Patterson bowled Sam Cook, leaving Essex 161 for nine and scores level. But Snater held his nerve to hit the winning run to cap a remarkable conclusion.
Shane Snater turns batting hero to seal dramatic one-wicket win for Essex
Yorkshire left to rue first-innings failures as gutsy defence of 162 falls just short
Dan Lawrence shores up Essex before Fin Bean shines in reply
Yorkshire trail by four overnight as young opener helps atone for first-innings failings