Kent will need to bat out the final day of their clash with Surrey at Beckenham to claim a draw.
The hosts were bowled out for 230 on Saturday in their first innings and will resume the final day of their LV= County Championship clash on 82-1, still 359 runs away from making Surrey bat again.
The day’s major talking point was when Kent opener Ben Compton had his helmet dislodged after ducking into a ball from Jamie Overton that didn’t climb as high as he expected. Compton’s helmet rattled into the stumps to spark Surrey celebrations but the umpires correctly ruled not out due to a relatively recent ECB regulation.
Batsmen are no longer deemed out when their helmet or a piece of protective equipment hits the stumps and dislodges the bails when playing in domestic cricket, a directive introduced by the ECB in 2020 to improve the safety of batsmen.
It means Compton, who was on 44, at the time survived what was a hostile spell by Overton.
However, having escaped to the other end to face the relative calm of spinner Will Jacks, Compton edged behind on 47 - a decision he clearly felt hard done by.
It was the third of four dismissals in the day’s opening session as Kent, having navigated their way comfortably to 71-1 lost four wickets for 39 runs.
Daniel Bell-Drummond was the first to go, brilliantly taken one-handed low down at second slip by Ollie Pope from Overton’s third ball of the day.
Jack Leaning made nine before he was bowled by Jacks and Jordan Cox departed just before lunch for 12, nicking a wide ball from Daniel Worrall that he could have left alone.
Darren Stevens was yorked by Overton early in the afternoon session for seven but George Linde and Ollie Robinson led Kent’s recovery.
They put on 41 for the seventh wicket before Linde fell. The South African became the first Kent batsman to go after the spin of Jacks but the Surrey man had the last word, Linde playing one attacking shot too many and falling to Rory Burns at slip for an enterprising 26.
Matt Milnes also added 41 alongside Robinson for the eighth wicket but the former went for 13, edging Colin de Grandhomme to Pope at second slip for 13.
At 207-8, Nathan Gilchrist strode out trying to avoid a record seventh successive first-class duck. He succeeded by getting off the mark to the third ball he faced, driving de Grandhomme through the covers for three to ironic cheers from home supporters.
Robinson, meanwhile, must have wondered what the fuss was all about at the other end as he reached a third successive half-century, on what still remained a good batting track.
Gilchrist lasted only seven balls, giving Jacks (4-65) his fourth wicket to go for five with the score at 224-9.
Matt Quinn lasted long enough to ensure Kent forced Surrey into taking the second new ball but Robinson was out when he hooked Overton (3-33) to Jacks for 71 and Kent trailed by 441 runs at tea.
Second time around, Compton and Zak Crawley appeared to have negotiated the final session with few alarms, Crawley edged well wide of the slips and Compton saw off Overton without any trouble.
Sam Curran, who bowled five overs of pace at the end of day two, came into the attack with eight overs of the day remaining, bowling left-arm spin for the visitors on his return from injury - an experiment that lasted only two overs.
But there was a late twist in the tale when Crawley played on to Jacks with just nine balls of the day remaining for 35.
Robinson said: “I think we’re obviously disappointed not to get more in the first innings, but the boys showed a lot of fight there and it be a turning point for us if we get through tomorrow unscathed and get out with a draw.
“They bowled beautifully and fair play to them. The runs weren’t really the objective for me, I was just trying to take time out of the game and make tomorrow as short of possible.
“It was a bit of a grind, I didn’t feel fluent but I’m pretty happy. I was disappointed to get out at the end, it would have been nice to be not out.
“It was a tough start to the year, but it’s nice to finally find a bit of form. It’s a strange one because I never really felt I was out of form, just out of runs.
"Every time I batted I still felt confident. It was the first time I’d really doubted myself in the first three games, so to prove it to myself that I can do it again is a nice feeling.”