Hampshire will tomorrow resume their bid to save the County Championship division two clash with Surrey at the Oval.
Dale Benkenstein’s side, who went into the game on top of the table, suffered two late blows on day three as they made steady progress in reply to the hosts’ first innings total of 474 for eight declared.
Gareth Batty (two for 35) removed Hampshire skipper Jimmy Adams for 79 and then trapped vice-captain James Vince leg before wicket for seven as the visitors closed on 167 for three – still 307 runs adrift.
Hampshire’s first objective today will be to overhaul the follow-on target of 324 – with Surrey still needing to bowl their rivals out twice to seal an unlikely final-day win.
Adams was key to his side getting a foothold in the game after Surrey declared half an hour before lunch.
The hosts had added 89 runs to their overnight total with Matt Coles (two for 67) removing Gary Wilson (82) and Kyle Abbott (one for 82) sending Jason Roy packing for 114.
When Michael Carberry was dismissed for six with the score on 23, there was early hope for the Surrey attack.
But Adams and Will Smith set about repairing the damage with a superb stand of 129.
The former was the chief aggressor – his knock including 10 boundaries.
However, Smith remained unbeaten on 61 at stumps and will resume the fight for a draw alongside Sean Ervine this morning.