Godleman key to Essex hopes
Essex 18 for 0 dec and 102 for 2 (Godleman 37*) need a further 258 runs to beat Kent 323 (McKenzie 139) and 54 for 0 dec
On a day of two declarations, Essex and Hampshire were locked in an intriguing struggle for victory in their Championship match at Chelmsford. Faced with a target of 360, Essex will go into the final day needing a further 258 for victory, with Billy Godleman seeking to add to his 37 that has so far spanned three hours.
Following a complete wash-out on the second day, Hampshire lost their remaining wickets for 20 runs after resuming on 303 for 6. Neil McKenzie added just five more runs to his overnight 134 before he was caught behind pushing forward against David Masters.
Graham Napier claimed two of the other wickets to finish with 4 for 62 and leave India spinner Harbhajan Singh to bring the Hampshire innings to an end by having Danny Briggs caught in the covers. It was Harbhajan's first success for the county, coming in his 44th over since he joined them.
Essex openers Godleman and Jaik Mickleburgh then crawled to 18 in as many overs before lunch, at which point the declaration came with the home side still 305 runs adrift. Obviously captains Mark Pettini and Jimmy Adams had agreed upon a target that Essex would be set and Hampshire declared their second innings after openers McKenzie and Adams had reached 54 in the 15th over.
That left Essex four and a half sessions to try and claim only their second victory of the summer in the competition but they were to lose Mickleburgh with the total on 25 when he was bowled by James Tomlinson attempting to turn the ball to leg.
While Godleman continued to drop anchor, Tom Westley struck an entertaining 26 before being removed lbw by David Balcombe with Essex still 300 runs short of their target but that was to prove Hampshire's last success.
The rock-like figure of Godleman has so far faced 141 deliveries and will resume his partnership with Pettini as Essex go in quest of a further 258 runs for victory. The pair have so far put on 42 in 24 overs and while the home side still face a huge task to achieve their objective, the placid nature of the pitch gives them hope of a victory which seemed remote at the start of the day.