Northamptonshire all but ensured promotion to the First Division after forcing Leicestershire to follow on at Wantage Road yesterday.
South African all-rounder Andrew Hall finished four runs short of a career-high 163 in Northamptonshire's 600 for 8 before continuing his heroics with the ball taking four wickets as Leicestershire collapsed from 106 for 1 to 218 all out.
In their follow-on the visitors lost Matthew Boyce and AJ Harris to leave the hosts, who have claimed maximum batting points, within sight of a victory which could clinch them a return to the top tier for the first time since 2004.
Northamptonshire's gain will be Essex's loss despite their spinner Danish Kaneria claiming the first hat-trick of his career. Essex took Derbyshire's last seven wickets for 74 yesterday, but the home side still finished on 474 thanks to 222 from Chris Rogers. By close Essex reached 166 for 2 thanks to 50 from Matt Walker and Tom Westley's classy 90.