Mahmood five keeps Kent ahead
Kent 474 and 150 for 5 Essex 341
Kent will go into the final day of their Championship dual against Essex at Chelmsford with a lead of 283 with five second-innings wickets remaining.
After Essex had been bowled out for 341 to leave their opponents with an advantage of 133, the visitors reached the close on 150 for 5 in their second innings. Tom Westley's 132, which equalled his career best, provided the backbone of the Essex innings after they had begun the day needing to reach 325 to avoid following on.
They largely succeeded in that quest through the efforts of Westley and Ryan ten Doeschate, despite some fine bowling by paceman Azhar Mahmood who went on to claim five for 63 in 25.2 overs.
After James Foster was caught at slip with only four added to the overnight total of 172 for 4, Westley and Ten Doeschate were to revive Essex with a stand of 115 before it was broken just after lunch. Makhaya Ntini ended it by trapping Ten Doeschate lbw for 66 that included eight fours and a six.
When Westley's superb effort, spanning six-and-a-quarter hours, was ended by a brilliant diving catch by Joe Denly at mid-off, an innings that included 19 boundaries, Essex were still 22 short of avoiding the follow-on with only two wickets left.
But a few belligerent strokes by David Masters banished such fears before Mahmood removed Chris Wright and Danish Kaneria to complete his five-wicket haul. When Kent set out to build upon their sizeable lead, they contrived to gift wickets to their opponents.
Denly was needlessly run out when called through for a single by Robert Key, who then put up a simple catch to Masters at mid-on. Wright did produce a good delivery to have Martin Jaarsveld taken at first slip by Alastair Cook, but then Geraint Jones managed to pull a long hop into the hands of Billy Godleman at mid-wicket.
Kent then lost their fifth wicket when Darren Stevens was removed lbw by Kaneria with a delivery that kept low, but 20-year-old Sam Northeast survived to reach the close just one run short of his second half century of the match - although not without a degree of good fortune.
He was involved in a controversial incident shortly before the close when Tim Phillips dived forward to hold what he believed to be a return catch. However, after umpires David Millns and Nigel Cowley had consulted, the batsman was given the benefit of the doubt. Then in the final over of the day, Northeast was put down at first slip when Cook failed to accept an easy chance.