Nottinghamshire enjoyed a strong third day at Chelmsford, with both bat and ball, to move closer to their fourth victory of the Specsavers County Championship season.
Having been bowled out for 266 in their second innings, Notts reduced Essex to 88 for four by stumps, still 353 away from an unlikely victory.
Tom Moores with 87 and Matt Milnes with the wickets of both Essex openers earned deserved praise from Assistant Coach Paul Franks.
“It’s all about youngsters taking their opportunity,” said Franks. “We knew that with a lot of the senior players moving on from last year it was time for a number of them to be given their opportunity.
“We didn’t know when it was to come, or guarantee that it was going to happen at any given time, so I suppose the challenge for them is to take their opportunity when it comes along.
“Today we’ve seen two of them take a step forward and we’re delighted with that.
“Tom has twisted his ankle, we’re not quite sure how serious it is yet but you could see he was in quite a lot of discomfort, he wasn’t his normal self – he couldn’t run between the wickets and is in quite a lot of pain at the moment but these things can settle down overnight.
“He’s a young man and James Pipe (the Club Physiotherapist) will get to work on him and we’ll see where we are with him in the morning.”
Despite his discomfort – and the need to bat with a runner – Moores hit seven mighty sixes in a brutal display of clean hitting.
“He’s got such a range of shots that some times he doesn’t want to use them all but his ball striking was outstanding,” reflected Franks.
“I thought he managed the situation really well. Quite often when you are batting with a runner and with tail-enders then chaos can ensue but he managed that situation really well.
“He helped us get into a situation of real strength and I’m delighted for him.”
Milnes pinned Alastair Cook for a duck at the start of Essex’s chase and then sent Varun Chopra’s middle stump cartwheeling out of the ground.
“I thought him and Fletch (Luke Fletcher) were excellent with the new ball in both innings and complement each other well.
"If you’re not going anywhere then the pressure is always building and I thought Milnes got his rewards from having bowled so well in the first innings.
"He could have had Cook then and had him dropped and beat him on both edges of the bat.
"To get England’s all-time leading run-scorer out is something he can certainly tell his grandkids.
“It’s a strong message from the club that he’s playing because he’s worked hard and had to be patient; he’s been in a lot of squads; he’s never let his head go down and has kept working hard.
“A lot of credit goes to Andy Pick and the support he’s had but Matt’s gone out there and done it himself and we’re delighted for him.”
Notts may need to be patient on the final day but need just six more wickets to complete their first county championship victory at Chelmsford since 1984.
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