|LV= County Championship Division Two, Chelmsford (close, day three)|
|Essex 360 & 55-1: Lawrence 23no, Westley 16no|
|Northants 275: Kleinveldt 52no; Ryder 3-53, Porter 3-93|
|Essex lead by 140 runs with nine wickets remaining|
|Essex 7pts, Northants 4pts|
Essex took charge against Northants on the third day at Chelmsford, before bad light brought about an early close.
Having resumed on 143-3, the visitors lost wickets at regular intervals, while Richard Levi was forced to retire hurt with a broken finger.
Rory Kleinveldt made an unbeaten 52, but Jesse Ryder (3-53) starred with the ball as Northants were all out for 275.
Nick Browne fell early, but Tom Westley (16) and Dan Lawrence (23) stood firm as Essex closed on 55-1, a lead of 140.
Lawrence, however, needed a large slice of luck as he was twice dropped off Kleinveldt on four.
Essex will be looking to accelerate on the final morning to set up a declaration and the possibility of victory in Chris Silverwood's first game as acting head coach.
They have not won in the Championship since beating Glamorgan by 248 runs in mid-July, with both games since then ending in defeats.