Hampshire may have started day three of their County Championship division two clash at Yorkshire pressing for the win but they will begin day four bidding to avoid defeat.
The hosts yesterday clawed their way back into the contest with a dogged batting display.
A century from Anthony McGrath (106 not out) undid most of Hampshire’s good work on the first two days.
Meanwhile, Phil Jaques (93) and Gary Ballance (76) threw their own respective spanners in the works.
Resuming their first innings on 100 for three – in reply to Hampshire’s 427 all out – the Headingley outfit knew they had to negotiate a tough first hour or so to stay in the game.
But Jaques and Ballance had taken the scoreboard on to 181 – recovering from 32 for three – before the former top-edged Liam Dawson (three for 61) to David Balcombe.
When Ballance departed, glancing Sean Ervine down the leg side to Michael Bates, Hampshire’s hopes were briefly raised.
But McGrath and Gerard Brophy (22) settled the home side’s fears of being forced to follow on.
As it turned out, McGrath was vital to that mini battle as Balcombe pinged back Adil Rashid’s off stump to leave the hosts at 237 for seven – still 41 runs short of the follow-on mark.
They need not have worried, however, as Ryan Sidebottom (34) played a carefree knock to see Yorkshire sail past the figure.
And with the Hampshire bowlers’ shoulders starting to slump, McGrath took advantage as the home side eventually declared on 399 for nine to give the visitors a tricky 10-over spell to negotiate before stumps.
Dawson then capped a poor game with the bat when he perished to Rashid for eight.
But Jimmy Adams and Michael Carberry survived, edging Hampshire to 21 for one – 49 runs ahead – when bad light stopped play three overs before the close.
Barring an unlikely clatter of wickets on a docile pitch – or the two captains getting together to manufacture some kind of run chase on the final day – this one will peter out into a drab draw – not exactly an advert for thrilling four-day cricket.
And if the two counties share the spoils, Hampshire will know they allowed a potential opportunity for victory to squirm from their grasp, even though the Headingley track will have to share a hefty chunk of the blame.