LEWIS McMANUS hit his maiden senior century to give Hampshire a chance of stealing a County Championship draw against Surrey at the Ageas Bowl.
The wicketkeeper shone to help the hosts frustrate the visiting bowlers on day three of the contest.
He combined for an unbeaten 70 run stand with Brad Wheal for the 10th wicket.
And McManus was thrilled to get the century as he finished the day on 117 not out.
He said: ‘It is a brilliant feeling. It is one of those were you never really know if it will come or not but it was one of the best feelings I’ve had on a cricket field.
‘I’ve had a bit of a run this year and it is always nice to repay the coaches for the faith they’ve shown and hopefully this will start a run of runs.
‘It is up to me and Whealy now to prolong as long as we can. It is pretty simple what we have to do as a team.’
Sean Ervine with 52, Adam Wheater, who hit 59, and Gareth Berg with 40 also chipped away at Surrey’s first innings total of 637 – leaving Hampshire 239 behind and still 90 short of the follow-on target.
McManus was gritty and took on the fight, only playing a shot when he needed to – although took a liking to leg side deliveries from Gareth Batty, dispatching the Surrey skipper into the stands twice.
The morning session had seen wickets fall at a semi-regular rate.
Dominic Sibley, the part-time leg spinner, was a thorn in Hampshire’s side.
He took two early scalps, Ryan McLaren leg before to the first ball of the day and then Tom Alsop two overs later as the hosts look set to have a day of panic.
Wheater and Ervine skipped the total along by 102 in attacking fashion, the latter surviving a second slip drop by Jason Roy on his way to a third half-century of the season, on the back of a double ton last week.
He fell to Mark Footitt soon before lunch and Ervine departed soon after the interval having got his third half century of the campaign – run out by a Rory Burns direct hit.
Gareth Berg and McManus then added 52 for the seventh wicket, with the former attacking the tiring Surrey attack.
Berg scored 40 before he expected a Gareth Batty off break to turn but it straightened and clipped the top of his off stump.
McManus, meanwhile, plugged away to get to 50 from 93 balls.
His next 50 saw him reach a well-deserved first voyage to three figures from 171 balls.
Berg was bowled by Batty after sticking 52 onto the score with McManus.
Gareth Andrew put on 71 with the man of the day as Surrey toiled in the searing south coast heat before he nicked to Roy at first slip and Mason Crane was castled by Batty.
But a hard-working final pairing handed the home side a fifth bonus point for the match and boosted hopes of getting away with a draw.