|Specsavers County Championship Division One, The Cloudfm County Ground, Chelmsford (day two):|
|Essex 150 & 313: Foster 69, Westley 49, Harmer 49; Mennie 3-47|
|Lancashire 144: Livingstone 33; Porter 5-26, Harmer 5-46|
|Essex (3 pts) lead Lancashire (3 pts) by 319 runs|
James Foster produced a gritty innings to help defending champions Essex set Lancashire 320 runs to win in Division One of the County Championship.
Tom Westley made 49 before Foster (69) and Simon Harmer (49) produced valuable runs in the lower order to reach 313.
Earlier Jamie Porter (5-26) and Harmer (5-46) took the final two away side wickets to complete five-wicket hauls.
Lancashire will now require the highest score of the match in the final innings, while Essex need 10 wickets.
Foster, who struck 10 fours in his 125-ball knock, was out lbw to Tom Bailey (3-73) late on day two, leaving the umpires to call stumps at the end of the Essex innings.
The visitors began the day on 141-8, but could only add three further runs as 2017’s leading Division One wicket-takers, Porter and Harmer, bowled Graham Onions and Jordan Clark in quick succession.
That allowed openers Nick Browne (17) and Varun Chopra (32) to get off to a good start, but Lancashire chipped away, with Joe Mennie (3-47) the pick of the bowlers.
Ravi Bopara (26), Ryan ten Doeschate (25) and Paul Walter (14) all got starts, but after Westley’s dismissal it was Foster and Harmer who pushed on, adding 103 for the eighth wicket, to leave Lancashire a difficult total to chase with two full days remaining.