County Championship Division Two, Southampton
Close, day two: Essex 180 & 217-2, Hampshire 229
Hampshire 4pts, Essex 3pts
Essex's Owais Shah scored his second Championship century of the season to frustrate promotion-chasing Hampshire.
The hosts, resuming on 165-4, lost six wickets for 40 runs as they collapsed to 229 all out at Southampton.
Hampshire, fourth in Division Two, claimed only one batting point as Reece Topley and Maurice Chambers both took three wickets for the visitors.
Essex ended on 217-2, an advantage of 168 runs, with Shah unbeaten on 124 not out and Jaik Mickleburgh scoring 73.
Hampshire's David Balcombe, who took 4-57 in Essex's first innings, claimed the early wicket of Tom Westley but Shah and Mickleburgh rescued the visitors by adding 193 for the second wicket.
Mickleburgh fell late in the afternoon, caught by Liam Dawson off Simon Katich's bowling, and Hampshire will be aiming to take Essex's last eight wickets quickly on Thursday to keep alive their promotion hopes.
VIEWS FROM THE COMMENTARY BOX
BBC Radio Solent's Kevan James:
"It was Hampshire's day on the first day, but it was very much Essex's day today.
"Hampshire manager Giles White says he has never seen a wicket 'flatten out so quickly' and his side are already up against it here, regarding their need to win the game.
"Shah and Mickleburgh have left Hampshire needing quick wickets with the second new ball (which is due in eight overs time) on Thursday.
"If they don't get them then Hampshire may go into next week's last game at Derbyshire with nothing riding on it."