LV= COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP DIVISION ONE, Chelmsford:
CLOSE OF PLAY, DAY THREE: Essex 343 & 131-4 v Hampshire 354
Essex 6pts, Hampshire 7pts
Westley will continue his rearguard action on day four at Chelmsford
Essex and Hampshire look set for a draw at Chelmsford unless the hosts collapse on day four, or a finish is contrived.
Resuming on 233-5, opener Jimmy Adams's patient 169 shepherded the visitors' lower order until they were bowled out for 354, a first-innings lead of 11.
Openers Billy Godleman and John Maunders fell cheaply to give Hampshire hope of forcing a winning position.
But Tom Westley dug in for 69 not out, aided by Mark Pettini (23) and James Foster (27) as Essex closed on 131-4.
Captain Pettini, who took 60 deliveries to reach double figures, spent 109 minutes at the crease to score his ponderous 23 before cutting pace bowler David Griffiths into the safe hands of Michael Carberry at gully.
His departure saw 21-year-old Westley, who had started brightly, become even more subdued to anchor the innings.
Isle of Wight-born Griffiths, who captured his maiden first-class five-wicket haul, also accounted for Foster with the last ball of the day as the former England wicketkeeper was caught by Chris Benham at square leg.
Earlier, Adams's marathon eight-hour defiance, which featured 23 fours, was ended by seamer David Masters (4-67) when the left-hander was ninth out, having scored nearly half of Hampshire's runs.
With Essex 122 ahead, all four results are still possible, although a draw is the most likely outcome on the notoriously batsman-friendly Chelmsford pitch.