|LV County Championship Division Two, Chelmsford|
|Close, day two: Middlesex 385, Essex 235-7|
|Middlesex 6pts, Essex 3pts|
Owais Shah fell just four runs of a century on his Essex debut against his former county Middlesex as he helped his new team fight back at Chelmsford.
Resuming on 316-6, Middlesex added 69 more runs to finish on 385.
Shah then led the resistance, only to be caught behind late in the day off Corey Collymore for 96.
But James Foster weighed in with an unbeaten 44 as Essex closed on 235-7, exactly 150 behind, with the threat of a follow-on all but saved.
Earlier, Middlesex opener Sam Robson, who batted the entire first day, could only add 10 to his overnight 136 before he was trapped leg before by Reece Topley.
But while Shah took the Essex batting plaudits, there was further disappointment for Ravi Bopara, who, having missed out on a place in the England squad for the first Test against Sri Lanka, made just one before falling victim to Gareth Berg.
CLOSE OF PLAY SUMMARIES
BBC London 94.9's Kevin Hand:
"The track was difficult to bat on again, with variable bounce, and Middlesex may have ripped through their opponents but for Owais Shah's defiant knock.
"Essex are one run short of avoiding the follow-on, although Middlesex may not have enforced it, as batting batting last on the track is going to be difficult.
"A number of balls kept low again today, but, more worringly for the batsman, there were a few that found some extra bounce.
"With that uncertainty in mind, the bowlers will continue to attack the stumps for the remainder of the match and a 100-run first-innings advantage will be very useful for Middlesex, if they can knock over the three remaining Essex wickets with the new ball which is available in three overs' time."