CRAIG Overton returned career-best figures to help restore Somerset pride in the LV=Insurance County Championship Division One match against Essex at Taunton.

Recently returned from the Caribbean, the England seamer claimed seven wickets for 57 runs as the hosts, shot out for 109 on day one, staged a fightback of sorts to dismiss Essex for 180.

Yet any thoughts of a concerted recovery were quickly dispelled when Somerset’s top-order batting suffered another cataclysmic failure, with only Matt Renshaw (45) and Steve Davies making much impression as they were dismissed for 154 in 60.2 overs second time around.

Set 84 to win, Essex reached the close on three for the loss of Nick Browne, well-placed to wrap up victory on day three.

Shane Snater did his best to force a conclusion inside two days, taking six for 36 from 14.4 overs, while Sam Cook weighed in with two for 32 to ensure Essex maintained the upper hand.

Somerset at least restored lost pride during a morning session in which Essex, resuming on 109 for two, surrendered their last eight wickets for just 71 runs in the face of a testing examination at the hands of Overton and Peter Siddle.

However, the feelgood factor proved short-lived as the cider county’s well-documented frailties with the bat resurfaced.

Somerset made a lamentable start to their second innings,. Probing uncertainly outside off stump, Tom Lammonby edged a slanting delivery from Sam Cook to Alastair Cook at first slip, while Ben Green fell lbw to Snater.

Beteran campaigner James Hildreth was bowled by a ball from Snater that left him and there was something equally tentative about Tom Abell’s dismissal, Somerset’s skipper pushing half forward and being caught at the wicket for 12.

Lewis Goldsworthy was then straightened up by Snater and pouched by Adam Wheater, at which point Somerset were 60 for five, still 11 runs short of making Essex bat again.

That they succeeded in averting a repeat of last week’s innings defeat at the hands of Hampshire, was attributable, in large part, to Renshaw. A half-century appeared his until he was lbw to Sam Cook.

Dropped by Alastair Cook at slip off the bowling of Simon Harmer on 19, Davies made good his escape to raise 50 from 96 balls.

But Essex had the last laugh, Snater removing Lewis Gregory, Overton and Jack Leach in quick succession and Mark Steketee bowling Davies in the act of driving shortly before the close.

Rested at the behest of England and forced to sit out the opening round of fixtures, Overton certainly made a difference on his return.

Siddle had already set the tone for the morning session when accounting for Alastair Cook with the first ball of the day, the former England captain edging to slip without adding to his overnight 59.

Nightwatchman Sam Cook was next to go, shouldering arms to a ball that nipped back at him as Overton went to work from the river end.

Intent upon cementing his place in the England set-up, Dan Lawrence appeared visibly upset when adjudged lbw to a Siddle delivery, while Matt Critchley pushed hard at a length ball from Overton and was caught by Renshaw.

Adam Rossington also came and went quickly, paying the penalty for playing across the line to a ball from Overton that nipped back off the seam. Now operating from the Marcus Trescothink Stand end, Overton further undermined the visitors, inducing Wheater to waft outside off stump and nick behind.

Overton clearly had his sights set on a career-best return and Snater duly obliged, seeking to evade a short-pitched delivery and gloving a catch behind. Having eclipsed the six for 24 he took on this same ground against Cardiff MCCU in 2019, the bowler was unfortunate not to bag an eighth victim, Simon Harmer twice surviving lbw appeals.

The honour of wrapping up the innings fell to Gregory, who pinned Steketee in his crease, leaving Harmer stranded on 25 not out.