Warwickshire restored control with a buccaneering last wicket of 70 between Hasan Ali and Oliver Hannon-Dalby after Essex hit back hard on day two at Edgbaston.
After beating Essex for 126 on day one and then reaching lunchtime without losing a wicket, Warwickshire looked set for only a modest lead when seven wickets fell in 17 overs to go from 108-2 to 172-9 .
The momentum was firmly with the Essex seams, led by New Zealander Doug Bracewell (4-51), but the latter pair Hasan, who hammered four fours and four sixes in his 53 steps on 47 balls, and Hannon -Dalby raised the Bears’ score to 242.
That 116 lead was later reduced to 30 by the time Essex had closed 86-4.
After Warwickshire resumed the second morning 17-2, skipper Will Rhodes (63) and Sam Hain (45) battled to end the morning session just 22 behind.
But Shane Snater sparked the collapse when he did it for Hain and Dan Mousley in back-to-back overs. And Ed Barnard’s takedown by Bracewell for an attractive 28 from 39 balls was the first of five wickets from 32 balls.
Sam Cook trapped Danny Briggs lbw, while Bracewell induced edges from Michael Burgess, Chris Rushworth and Rhodes.
But the Bears’ last pair put the crowd on their feet with a bold counterattack, started by Hasan when he twice tossed Cook into the Hollies stand, and Hannon-Dalby joined them with successive sixes out. of Bracewell to elevate the 50 stand by 50 balls.
Hassan found the seats to bring his half-century up from 33 balls – before Hannon-Dalby was finally caught.
The second time around Essex lost Nick Browne, brought down by Rushworth in the third round before Barnard ousted Westley and Hasan sacked former England captain Alastair Cook.