Kent 229 and 51 for 3 need a further 215 runs to beat Worcestershire 224 and 270 (Cox 89, Bollinger 5-43)
Ben Cox struck a fierce 89 to propel Worcestershire into a strong position against Kent on day three of their Championship Division Two match. The 22-year-old wicketkeeper hit 14 fours and a six as he compiled his highest first-class score to help the hosts reach 270 and gave Kent a target of 266 to chase.
Cox came in just before lunch with his side struggling at 113 for 5 and produced a gutsy innings given the circumstances, moving past his previous best of 65 before James Tredwell ended his 121-ball stay at the crease.
Former Worcestershire quick Doug Bollinger did most of the damage with the ball, though, taking five wickets for 43 to keep Kent's hopes up, but the visitors reached the close in a spot of bother at 51 for 3, needing another 215.
With conditions again glorious, England national selector James Whitaker was in attendance for the start of play as Worcestershire resumed on 41 without loss, but Australia international Bollinger soon made inroads.
He had Daryl Mitchell caught behind by Sam Billings for 27, bringing to an end a solid opening partnership of 53 with Matthew Pardoe. He trapped Moeen Ali lbw for nought the very next ball, but Tom Kohler-Cadmore avoided becoming his hat-trick victim. The new man did not last too long, though, as he was caught by Brendan Nash off Tredwell for 18.
Bollinger ended Pardoe's resistance on 43, doing well to take a low catch after the batsman had misjudged his full toss and, when Mitchell Claydon bowled Alexei Kervezee for 21 just before lunch, Kent were in command.
Ross Whiteley (34) and Cox set about rebuilding the hosts' innings and put on 55 for the sixth wicket before Bollinger got one to nip in to Whiteley. But any hopes Kent may have had of mopping up the tail quickly were thwarted as Cox's partners dug in and allowed him to keep the total moving.
Gareth Andrew lasted 23 balls for his eight, Jack Shantry 44 for his 11 and, after the latter became Bollinger's fifth victim of the day and seventh of the match, Charles Morris 18 for his 2. Cox himself was the last man out as a maiden first-class century eluded him.
Worcestershire's reply got off to a flying start, Andrew removing Sam Northeast lbw for a duck with the third ball of the innings. Andrew also did for Rob Key in similar fashion, while Kent were 27 for 3 when Shantry trapped Daniel Bell-Drummond, who made 61 in the first innings, lbw for 14. Nash and Ben Harmison were unbeaten on 14 and 9 respectively at the close.