ESSEX kept alive their faint hopes of qualifying for Division One by exploiting Derbyshire’s brittle batting on the first day of the LV=Insurance County Championship match at Derby.

Shane Snater took 3 for 45 as Derbyshire were skittled for 146 after electing to bat with only Leus du Plooy offering any prolonged resistance with 43 from 91 balls.

Jamie Porter, Simon Cook and Jimmy Neesham each took two wickets to bowl Derbyshire out for less than 150 for the eighth time in 12 innings.

Derbyshire hit back with Finn Hudson-Prentice, who is returning to Sussex at the end of the season, taking two wickets as Essex closed on 86 for 3, 60 runs behind.

Derbyshire’s decision to bat on an overcast morning with the floodlights on soon looked questionable as they slipped to 31 for 3.

Tom Wood lost his off stump offering no shot to Cook, Luis Reece was lbw to one that nipped back from Snater and Brooke Guest was bowled between bat and pad by Porter.

Matt Critchley played across the line at Cook and although du Plooy switched to T20 mode by ramping Snater for six, it was a rare bright spot for the home side.

Harry Came quickly went on his first-class Derbyshire debut, caught behind pushing forward at Simon Harmer in the second over after lunch and the slide continued with Harvey Hosein edging a drive at Porter.

Du Plooy had come down the pitch to the seamers to reduce the risk of falling lbw but was given leg before to Snater and after Alex Thomson missed a drive, Neesham polished off the tail.

Having banked maximum bowling points, Essex now needed to do the same with the bat and it looked ominous for Derbyshire when Alastair Cook was dropped at second slip by Critchley on seven.

Cook advanced to 30 but Reece found enough movement to breach his defence and skipper Tom Westley struggled before edging Hudson-Prentice behind.

Hudson-Prentice had Michael Pepper caught at cover and although Nick Browne and Neesham prevented further setbacks, it will take a big effort for Essex to get a full house of bonus points.