Essex overcame a top-order wobble to clinch their first LV= County Championship Division Two victory of the season on day three against Hampshire at Chelmsford.
Set just 143 for victory after skittling Hampshire for 199 in their second innings, nerves began to jangle in the home dressing room when Essex crashed to 31-6.
But Graham Napier maintained his fine start to the season with the bat, cracking an unbeaten 78 off just 88 deliveries to see Paul Grayson's men to a much-needed four-wicket victory.
Essex registered 21 points for the win, while Hampshire return to the south coast with just three.
Napier's heroics came after David Balcombe and James Tomlinson had shared four quick wickets - the former bowling England captain Alastair Cook for four.
Essex also contributed to their own problems with two senseless run outs while Ravi Bopara was dismissed for a duck.
An horrendous mix-up debating a third run led to Tom Westley's dismissal several yards from safety while James Foster was removed by George Bailey's direct throw from short cover attempting a single.
But Napier then arrived to dominate proceedings with muscular power that saw him smash 10 fours and three sixes, those arriving with on-drives against left-arm spinner Danny Briggs, Tomlinson and Liam Dawson.
With only 13 required, the match went into the extra half-hour and the third over of it saw Mark Pettini (35no) seal victory with three runs to mid-wicket.
An absorbing third day had started with the visitors on 77-2 and holding a slender advantage of 20. They were quickly put more firmly on the back foot when paceman David Masters breached the defence of Bailey with only eight added.
Hampshire were revived by a half-century stand between Dawson and James Vince before the former fell victim to superb bat/pad catch by Ben Foakes to provide spinner Tim Phillips with his solitary success.
Vince was eventually caught behind for 67, containing seven boundaries, off Masters who went on to finish with five wickets for 41 and match figures of 9-70. But it was medium-pacer Bopara (3-41) who was the main instigator of Hampshire's rapid decline from 188-5 to 199 all out.