Nick Browne again halted Derbyshire's advance as his second unbeaten century of the game combined with a hundred from Ryan ten Doeschate helped Essex to a draw the LV=County Championship Division Two match at Chesterfield.
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The 23-year-old Browne made 100 not out and shared a fifth-wicket unbroken stand of 193 with Ten Doeschate (104) who scored his first century in the Championship in nearly a year as Essex ended on 243 for four. Derbyshire had set them 367 in 61 overs with Shivnarine Chanderpaul making 92 before the home side declared on 368 for eight.
Essex's chances of victory vanished when Mark Footitt took three wickets in four balls to reduce them to 19 for three but Browne played another mature innings and, with Ten Doeschate, steered the visitors to safety 25 minutes into the final hour.
Derbyshire had a lead of 235 going into the fourth morning and after David Wainwright (32) became yet another player to be caught behind down the leg side with only six runs added, Tony Palladino joined Chanderpaul to frustrate his former team-mates.
He hit four fours and pulled Graham Napier for six before he was bowled swinging at the next ball for 40, and Chanderpaul's innings ended when he steered a wide ball into the hands of first slip.
At lunch, Derbyshire were 336 runs ahead but surprisingly chose to bat on for another 3.4 overs before the declaration came after Tom Taylor pulled Ten Doeschate for six leaving Essex a demanding target.
Any hopes they might have entertained disappeared in the space of four balls as Footitt tore in from the Pavilion End to blow away the top order.
Tom Westley was caught behind prodding forward, before the second ball Ravi Bopara faced kicked viciously to take the shoulder of the bat and Wes Durston leapt to take a stunning catch at second slip, showing he had recovered from the blow he took on the first day.
Jesse Ryder wafted at the next ball to edge into the gloves of Gareth Cross and Essex would have lost four wickets in five balls if Wayne Madsen had not dropped Browne low at first slip off the first delivery of Palladino's next over.
Footitt had to switch to go around the wicket after he was twice warned by Graham Lloyd for running down the pitch but when Wainwright had James Foster snared at slip Derbyshire had another 45 overs to take six wickets.
They would be frustrated as Ten Doeschate joined Browne in the stand that closed the door on their hopes of a second victory.
The Dutch international started cautiously but began moving through the gears and although he survived a difficult one-handed return chance to Palladino on 42, he batted with increasing authority and hit two sixes in a 112-ball hundred.
After Browne completed a memorable match by reaching three figures from 159 balls, the players shook hands and Essex head coach Paul Grayson said: "It's been an outstanding game on a brilliant cricket wicket with a little bit in it for everyone.
"If you applied yourself with good shot selection you could score runs which was shown by the way Nick Browne played. For someone so young to play as he has in this game should give him a huge amount of confidence, it was an outstanding display of batting."
Derbyshire skipper Wayne Madsen said: "It was a really good game of cricket and we were happy with how we played over the four days and gives us a lot of encouragement.. I think it (the declaration) was the right call because we saw how Ryan struck the ball. We were under a bit of pressure towards the end and if we had given them a few more overs it could have been quite interesting."