Hampshire fell just short in their bid for a much-needed victory as manager Giles White conceded: It just wasn’t to be.
It was another draw in County Championship division two for Hampshire as honours finished even with Kent at the Ageas Bowl on Saturday.
But while the result was the same outcome as recent matches with Lancashire and Northamptonshire, the game did not have the same farcical feel.
Huge credit goes to Hampshire captain Jimmy Adams and his Kent counterpart Geraint Jones for trying to force a positive result.
It did not come to fruition, though, as the match ended with Kent on 296 for eight as Calum Haggett (32 not out) and Adam Riley batted out the final hour of the match to earn the visitors a share of the spoils.
That was after Hampshire had earlier declared on 207 for three, leaving their opponents needing 342 from a minimum of 84 overs.
White said: ‘I thought it was a good declaration as it gave both sides a chance.
‘We knew it was going to be hard work on that wicket as it was good for batting.
‘It was always going to be a battle to get them out.
‘You must give credit to Kent and their last two who batted very well.
‘In the end I thought we bowled well enough to get it in our favour.’
Both sides would have felt they could have won during the fourth day.
Early on, it was Hampshire as they had Kent 41 for four.
David Balcombe (two for 35) claimed both openers, Rob Key for one and Sam Northeast (13).
Brendon Nash (15) and Ben Harmison (two) followed before the 13th over to leave Kent in real trouble.
However, after lunch a fine partnership of 144 in 34 overs between Darren Stevens (96), which included two sixes and 15 fours in a 105-ball stay, alongside Daniel Bell-Drummond (66), had Kent sniffing victory. But their faint hopes were dashed when Sean Ervine claimed Stevens’ wicket.
A buoyant Hampshire side then rallied in the final session.
And Danny Briggs got the prize scalp of Bell-Drummond before a run out left Kent needing to bat out the final hour with just two wickets in hand.
But a brilliant rearguard action from Haggett and Riley saw them home and denied the hosts.
This was Hampshire’s fourth successive draw in the Championship this season.
The result sees them placed fifth in division two – but only eight points adrift of second-placed Worcestershire.
White added: ‘The table is still closely bunched up there.
‘Obviously Northants have got away a little but apart from that it’s close.
‘With a win over Gloucester next week we can move into a better position.’