Hampshire’s Royal London One-Day Cup inconsistencies continued as they crashed to a heavy six-wicket home loss to Essex.
In their four completed fixtures, they have now registered two convincing wins and been put to the sword in the other two as they struggle to find a regular level of performance.
This time, it was the batting that let them down as they were bowled out for 209 with more than four overs unused – which looked at least 60 runs short.
And that never looked like causing too many problems for Essex as they reached their target for the loss of just four wickets and with eight overs to spare.
It could have been much worse as well but for a fine partnership between Liam Dawson (85) and Will Smith (63), which rescued a dire situation as Hampshire’s top order was torn apart.
At 68 for five, it looked like it could be a very early finish to the contest.
But Dawson underlined his growing confidence and stature against the club where he briefly appeared on loan last month to stem the flow and found a capable partner in Smith.
The duo saw out a tricky period and then shared a partnership worth 124 runs before Smith edged behind to James Foster from a quick Jamie Porter (three for 39) delivery.
Dawson hung around for a few more overs but when he was caught in the deep, Hampshire’s hopes of posting a testing target went with him.
Earlier, Michael Carberry (six) picked out the fielder as he went for the boundary before Jimmy Adams (23) departed in unusual circumstances, treading on his own stumps as he stepped backwards.
With both openers gone with just 31 runs on the board, Adam Wheater (two) and James Vince (two) followed soon afterwards to leave Hampshire in huge trouble at 36 for four.
Joe Gatting (17) was then one of four wickets for Reece Topley (four for 26) before Dawson and Smith got together to start the recovery.
Defending a total that looked well short of par, Hampshire needed a fast start with the ball and could have done with a similar effort to the one that destroyed Middlesex at the weekend.
But instead, they came up against Nick Brown (57) and Nick Browne (69) who did the majority of the donkey work for Essex in what turned out to be an easy cruise to their target.
The openers put on 122 runs for the first wicket before Dawson (one for 40) finally made the breakthrough but the writing was on the wall way before that point.
Smith (one for 24) tempted Pettini out of his crease to allow Wheater to complete a regulation stumping.
Although they added the late wickets of Tom Westley (53) and Jesse Ryder (six), the result had been settled long before Ryan ten Doeschate scampered the winning runs.
Hampshire now face Warwickshire at Edgbaston today (2pm)