Liam Dawson insists Hampshire still have the stomach for a fight as they cling on to their hopes of staying in division one of the Championship.
The opening batsman hit 54 – his first half-century since May – as he built a 100-run opening stand with Jimmy Adams on day two of their clash with Lancashire.
The home side were eventually bowled out for 388 following the first-day defiance of their lower order.
But despite an encouraging start in their reply, Hampshire faltered to 229 for five – still 159 runs behind in a game they know they have to win.
While they face an uphill struggle against a side whose spinners Simon Kerrigan and Gary Keedy took command with all five wickets between them, Dawson believes Hampshire can yet drag themselves back in to the contest.
Dawson said: ‘We’re still in the game, even though we are 150-odd runs behind.
‘We’ve got a chance and we’re still fighting.
‘We always thought it was going turn a fair amount. It’s a wicket where you have to get yourself in and it was quite nice to bat against the new ball.
‘I think we will have to work hard against spin in the second innings as well.
‘Spin will play an important role and it showed with the wickets that fell.’
It was an impressive performance from the home side’s lower order to get them way beyond 350 when they were 125 for five on day one – a total that Dawson believes was too many.
He said: ‘We didn’t bowl very well after tea on day one. We bowled pretty poorly and probably gave them about 70 or 80 runs.
‘We know that ourselves but we can’t do anything about it now.’
Lancashire skipper Glen Chapple was the key to the home side’s recovery, although the captain fell just three runs short of his century.
Dawson, meanwhile, showed his own impressive form with the bat and admitted it was a long-overdue return to form.
He said: ‘I needed some runs. I felt good. I just haven’t got the runs but it was nice to get a few again.
‘It definitely played on my mind lately.
‘I had been short of runs for the past five or six weeks but I felt all right and, hopefully, I can finish the season well.’
While the prospects of a Hampshire win look decidedly gloomy at the midway point in the contest, Dawson remains hopeful there could yet be an exciting finish to the game.
Much will depend on Sean Ervine (52 not out) and Michael Bates (20 not out), while the lower order will need to emulate what Lancashire did to boost their hopes.
Dawson said: ‘Hopefully, we can get close to them with our first innings and if we then roll them over, we could have an exciting chase on our hands.’