County Championship: Steven Croft century aids Lancashire
|LV= County Championship Division Two, Emirates Old Trafford|
|Lancashire 402-8d: Croft 122, Faulkner 68, Topley 3-90|
|Essex 139-5: Browne 78 not out; Faulkner 3-28|
|Lancashire lead by 263 runs|
|Lancashire 5 pts, Essex 2 pts|
Steven Croft's knock of 122 and James Faulkner's 68 helped to give Lancashire a chance of a final-day victory against Essex at Old Trafford.
Croft and Faulkner recorded a 144-run sixth-wicket partnership but they were both dismissed by Reece Topley (3-90).
Arron Lilley and Kyle Jarvis combined to add another 55 runs off 40 balls before the hosts declared on 402-8.
Essex opener Nick Browne hit 78 not out, which included 11 boundaries, as Essex ended the day on 139-5.
The visitors' innings got off to a shaky start as Lancashire debutant Toby Lester clean bowled both Jaik Mickleburgh and Liam Dawson, before Australian all-rounder Faulkner (3-28) removed the dangerous trio of Ravi Bopara, Jesse Ryder and Ryan ten Doeschate.
Earlier in the day, Essex left-armer Topley took three wickets in the space of eight overs, but Lilley and Jarvis proved a resilient pairing as they helped Lancashire pass the 400-run mark before declaring.
Lancashire batsman Steven Croft:
"It was a really good day for the team. We got to 400 very well in the end and that is one of our goals in every game. We've got there on quite a few occasions and it's been very pleasing really.
"We thought there was a little bit in the pitch if you were disciplined and I think our bowling showed that.
"It was great to see Toby get two wickets in his opening spell and there's a little bit of turn there. The aim is to get our bonus points and to make them follow on and put them under pressure."
Essex captain James Foster:
"Things have not gone to plan today, that for sure. We find ourselves in a position that certainly wasn't in our thoughts at the start of play but that's cricket.
"If you are not switched on and don't bring your A game, then a top team like Lancashire will take advantage of it.
"Now we've got work to do tomorrow to get to 250 to save the follow-on and then, hopefully, we can kick on and get some more bonus points."