Hampshire captain Jimmy Adams admitted his side did not put enough runs on the board as they picked up a first County championship defeat of the season at Essex.
The visitors surrendered their proud unbeaten record in a pulsating two-wicket loss at Castle Park – but only after a remarkable comeback appeared on the cards.
Danny Briggs (four for 61), and Liam Dawson (four for 58), came agonisingly close to denying Essex’s modest 133-run win target when they combined to reduce the hosts to 108-8.
But in the end, the home side held strong, with England batsman Ravi Bopara following up his 79 in the first innings with an unbeaten 48 to stumble over the winning line.
Despite the defeat – a first in County championship action for Hampshire since August 2013 – Dale Benkenstein’s side remain in second-place in division two with four matches left to play.
Adams said: ‘It was a fantastic game of cricket.
‘To get so close is bitterly disappointing from our perspective but it was a really good game, especially if you were an Essex supporter or a neutral really.
‘When we batted, we were probably 50 runs shy of what we needed.’