Essex go into the final day just 59 runs short of victory in their Specsavers Division Two clash with Gloucestershire at Chelmsford.
After bowling the visitors out for 215 in their second innings, Essex reached 34 without loss by the close in pursuit of a target of 93 runs.
Only a resolute 58 by Gareth Roderick, his second half-century of the match, and a swashbuckling 74 from 76 balls by Jack Taylor prevented the home side wrapping things up with a day to spare.
Taylor struck five sixes, three off Graham Napier and two against Ravi Bopara, to go with seven fours before he was last out when Jamie Porter held a fine catch at deep mid-off, his belligerent hitting coming after he had been content to play a subdued role when Roderick was his partner.
Roderick was caught at first slip by Alastair Cook attempting to cut a ball from Napier, an effort that spanned 140 balls of resistance and brought him six boundaries. Following his departure after a stand worth 65 for the seventh wicket, Taylor cut loose to score 34 of the final 42 runs.
Earlier Gloucestershire were soon in disarray when they began their second innings 123 runs adrift.
— Essex Cricket (@EssexCricket) April 12, 2016
Porter removed Cameron Bancroft and Ian Cockbain in his opening over with successive deliveries without a run on the board, both caught by wicketkeeper James Foster, while Chris Dent became a victim of Matt Dixon before the total had moved into double figures.
Gloucestershire saw half their side back in the pavilion with just 70 on the board and at that point a three-day conclusion looked inevitable. But Roderick and Taylor had other ideas as they frustrated the Essex attack with an approach of concentration by the former and free-hitting by the latter.
Porter finished with 3-53 while Napier and Bopara also picked up three wickets each at a cost of 36 and 49 respectively.
Essex had resumed their first innings on 287 for six this morning, and Foster and Napier were both out in the 30s after sharing in a stand of 57.
On-loan seamer Josh Shaw, making his Championship debt, was the most successful visiting bowler with 4-118, while Liam Norwell picked up 3-81.
Nick Browne and Cook batted with considerable ease while closing in on victory by making 39 without loss, Browne gathering five fours as he finished with 26.