SIMON Harmer twirled career-best figures of nine for 80 to befuddle Derbyshire as Essex headed towards a second County Championship victory of the season.

Off spinner Harmer’s analysis were the 13th best of all-time for Essex, 18th best against Derbyshire and the second-best ever at the County Ground.

The visitors were asked to follow on, having been rolled for 146, but improved second time around led by Brooke Guest and Billy Godleman.

Guest, who had top-scored with a manful 49 in the Harmer rout, bagged his maiden first-class fifty as Derbyshire ended the day on 97 for one, trailing by 169.

Guest and Alex Hughes batted for almost an hour to put on 44, after a washed-out first session, before Harmer, who had taken two in the day two gloom, started to wreak havoc.

Hughes ran past one to be stumped by Adam Wheater and Wayne Madsen, after striking two sixes, turned around the corner to leg slip.

Matt Critchley slogged a boundary over midwicket before giving Harmer his 23rd first-class five-wicket haul with a caught and bowled.

It was not a classical Harmer Chelmsford pitch, with the ball not overly turning or bouncing, rather a perfect example of slight variation, confidence and reputation.

Although he got a helping hand from Ryan ten Doeschate at short leg to dismiss Harvey Hosein – with the 40-year-old reacting unbelievably to snaffle low down.

Guest, a day after turning 24, recorded his career-best 49 in a one-man rearguard before being adjudged caught by ten Doeschate bat-pad.

Billy Stanlake lost his middle stump and Dustin Melton was brilliantly caught and bowled as Harmer bested his previous best of nine of 95.

Ironically, both Harmer’s attempts at a ten-wicket haul have been thwarted by part-time spinner Dan Lawrence.

In four overs before bad light, and subsequently rain, Jamie Porter bowled Luis Reece – who was playing a short not befitting the situation of needing to bat a day and 40-odd overs to save a draw.

But Guest and Godleman showed resilience to put on 83, and more importantly, chew up 174 balls.

Guess beat his personal best for the second time in the day by bringing up his fifty in 89 deliveries and ended the day unbeaten on 56.