|LV= County Championship Division Two, Chelmsford|
|Close, day two: Worcestershire 84 and 113-2, Essex 431|
|Essex 6 pts, Worcestershire 3 pts|
Jesse Ryder kept up his starring role at Chelmsford to maintain Essex's slim promotion hopes while Worcestershire's Division Two title dream faded further.
Following up his county-best 5-24 with the ball on the first morning, Ryder hit an unbeaten 120 as Essex built a 347-run first-innings lead.
James Foster made 48 and Monty Panesar weighed in with a county-best 38 as Essex were finally bowled out for 431.
|How it all pans out now|
|Worcestershire, having picked up only three bonus points, must win this game if they are to secure the Division Two title.|
|If they lose, Hampshire will be Division Two champions if they finish off Glamorgan at Cardiff.|
|If Hampshire fail, a win for third-placed Essex would send them up instead.|
|Worcestershire last failed to secure maximum bowling points at New Road against Leicestershire in May 2013. Since then, they had achieved the feat in the final 12 matches of last season and the first 15 of this season.|
The visitors then finished on 113-2, with Moeen Ali still there on 70.
The England all-rounder has so far put on 59 for the third wicket with Tom Fell (14 no), but already-promoted Worcestershire still need a further 234 runs to even make Essex bat again.
And, with Hampshire looking favourites to beat Glamorgan, that would be bad news for both the two teams facing each other at Chelmsford.
Hampshire would not only secure the second automatic promotion place from Essex, it would also deprive Worcestershire of the title that seemed assured when Saeed Ajmal was taking wickets for fun back over the first half of the summer.
|Ryder on the storm|
|Jesse Ryder's second Championship ton of the summer came on the day when it was announced that he had signed a two-year deal with Essex and had also been awarded his county cap.|
At 268-7, with Charlie Morris having taken three wickets, it looked as if Worcestershire could get themselves back in this contest following their first-day debacle.
But the 163 runs eked out for the final three Essex wickets denied Worcestershire a third bowling point when the all-important 110-over mark was reached with the home side on 319-7.
That was the first time in 27 successive County Championship matches that Worcestershire had failed to claim maximum bowling points.
BBC Hereford and Worcester's Trevor Owens:
"Essex are firmly in the box seat in this one after Jesse Ryder backed up his fine bowling spell on day one with an excellent unbeaten century.
"He was well supported by David Masters and Monty Panesar, while Worcestershire's bowlers deserve praise for sticking to the task.
"The last thing Worcestershire needed was to lose early wickets, but Richard Oliver's departure, followed by skipper Daryl Mitchell meant the onus was very much on Moeen Ali.
"He survived a few scares, with good support from Tom Fell, but it will take something of a minor sporting miracle if they are to take this into the scheduled final day of the season."