Essex moved to the brink of the Specsavers County Championship title by building a commanding position on day two against Warwickshire at Edgbaston.
Second-placed Lancashire, who need to win to take the title battle to another week, were forced to follow on in their game at Taunton.
And Essex moved closer to a victory of their own after making 369 for nine, a lead of 168, before declaring late in the day to give struggling Warwickshire two awkward overs batting.
Unbeaten Essex are all-but certain to win County Championship the season after promotion
The home side survived those unscathed on seven without loss but will have to bat with a resilience that has invariably been lacking this season to get out of this hole.
With plenty of time at their disposal, Essex’s batsmen built a position from which they will aim to close out victory on the third day.
It was a collective effort led by Varun Chopra (98), Dan Lawrence (78) and James Foster (68) to which all the top eight, other than skipper Ryan ten Doeschate, contributed.
After bowling well as a unit, the Division One leaders batted well, sustaining pressure on their opponents.
Chopra perished lbw to medium-pacer Matt Lamb just two runs short of his century
Essex resumed on the second day on 69 without loss and gave up two wickets in the morning session.
Opening pair Chopra and Nick Browne added 72 before the latter edged Keith Barker to second slip.
Tom Westley batted sweetly for 28 until he nicked England team-mate Chris Woakes behind, after which Chopra and Lawrence put on 92 in 29 overs.
Chopra was within two runs of a century against his former team when he perished lbw to medium-pacer Matt Lamb.
Lawrence’s aggressive innings threatened to take the game away from Warwickshire rapidly but the beleaguered home side hit back with two wickets in four balls for Ryan Sidebottom, Lawrence cutting to gully and Ten Doeschate playing on for a third-ball duck.
When Ravi Bopara fell lbw to Barker, Essex had lost four wickets for 51 runs in 17 overs but Foster and Simon Harmer calmly eased the total upward with a partnership of 76 in 23 overs.
Woakes ended that stand with an in-ducker which pinned Harmer, Neil Wagner edged Barker and, after Foster fell lbw to Jeetan Patel, Essex declared.