Hampshire enhanced their promotion prospects when they beat bottom of the table Essex by 85 runs at Southend.

Star of the South Coast side's win was Neil Johnson who hit an unbeaten 105 after opening the innings to underpin his side's challenging total of 213-6 on a slow wicket before adding a wicket to his afternoon's work.

The Zimbabwean struck his first century in the competition from 118 deliveries that included seven fours and a six and steadily raised the tempo after starting at a subdued pace preferring to push the ball into the gaps before employing more aggression to his game.

His partnership for the third wicket with Dimitri Mascarenhas in 23 overs eased his side away from an uneasy start when they slipped to 26-2. Mascarenhas played his full part, reaching a half-century with a straight driven boundary but then sacrificed his wicket after a mid wicket mix-up that left him stranded.

Johnson though continued to control proceedings and gathered 45 runs in five overs towards the close of the innings with Robin Smith to take the visitors to their useful score.

The target proved totally beyond the home side who made a poor start losing their first three wickets for 14 runs inside six overs as Darren Robinson and Stephen Peters departed to slip catches before Ronnie Irani pulled Mascarenhas to mid-wicket to give the bowler a second wicket.

The best stand that Essex could muster was 36 for the fourth wicket between the effective Paul Grayson and Graham Napier but the latter perished on 22 when he hoisted James Hamblin to deep mid-wicket.

Grayson alone looked assured and had moved smoothly to 44 when he drove a cleverly flighted delivery back to bowler Shaun Udal.

The last three wickets fell quickly and cheaply to leave the home side reflecting on a dismal season that has seen them collect just one league win from their nine matches.

In contrast, Hampshire were left to celebrate their sixth win in eight matches and allowed them to exact revenge for their only league defeat, which they suffered at the Rose Bowl on 3rd June against Essex.