Essex hang on for draw with Middlesex at Chelmsford
|LV County Championship Division Two, Chelmsford|
|Middlesex 385 & 211-6 dec drew with Essex 291 & 196-7|
|Middlesex 10 pts, Essex 7 pts|
Adam Wheater hit 76 - his highest score for his county - as Essex hung on for a draw with Middlesex at Chelmsford.
After being set the formidable target of 306 by Middlesex in a minimum of 53 overs, the home side were content to finish on 196-7.
Captain Neil Dexter hit an unbeaten 73 as Middlesex declared on 211-6.
But Essex ran out of steam once Tim Murtagh got rid of Jaik Mickleburgh, Owais Shah and Mark Pettini in the space of just 16 deliveries.
After destroying the top order, Murtagh retired to the pavilion with a knee problem and, although he later returned, he did not bowl again.
Anthony Ireland, who completed Murtagh's unfinished over, went on to pick up the wickets of Ravi Bopara and Matt Walker to reduce Essex to 80 for five.
But Wheater and James Foster (44) resisted for a further 20 overs, adding a crucial 95.
In the end he succumbed to leg-spinner Dawid Malan, who followed up that success by removing danger man Graham Napier - both batsmen falling lbw while playing back.
But Foster, following his half-century in the first innings, and Tim Phillips carried Essex to safety and no doubt left visiting captain Neil Dexter wishing he had declared earlier.
Middlesex emerged from the game with 10 points which keeps them in third place in the Division Two table.
Middlesex skipper Neil Dexter told BBC London 94.9:
"We played good cricket throughout and we were on top throughout too, but it's one of those ones when you're not too sure when to declare.
"We're in a good position, we've won three and you don't want to give them a slight chance really.
"We still could have bowled them out but they batted well."