Two late wickets for Gareth Batty gave Surrey a glimmer of hope that they could force victory over Division Two promotion rivals Hampshire in their LV= County Championship match at the Kia Oval.
Batty removed Jimmy Adams for 79, after the visitors' skipper had helped Will Smith put on 129 for their second wicket, and then had James Vince trapped in front for seven as Hampshire finished the third day on 167 for three - 307 runs behind - after Surrey had declared 30 minutes before lunch on 474 for eight.
Despite Batty's efforts, it looks like a slow pitch is going to be the winner unless Adams and his opposite number Gary Wilson can set up a second-innings run-chase on the final day with the aid of a couple of imaginative declarations.
But with Hampshire 16 points clear of Surrey, and having a game in hand, they will probably be quite happy to try to bat through the final day for a draw.
There was some slow turn for Batty's off breaks and Zafar Ansari's slow left-arm bowling. Between them, Surrey's two spinners have bowled 47 overs.
The hosts might have been in a better position had Smith not been dropped twice on his way to an unbeaten half-century. On 16, he jabbed at a ball from Batty which the diving Rory Burns got a hand on but could not hang on to at short-leg.
Then, on 22, Jason Roy shelled a sharp chance at slip off Ansari. Smith survived and when bad light forced the players off 25 minutes before the scheduled close he had reached 61 from 192 balls with seven fours.
Matt Dunn had given Surrey the breakthrough when he snared Michael Carberry caught behind driving loosely outside off stump in the eighth over.
But Adams and Smith settled in to a long vigil against the spinners with Batty reeling off 10 maidens in two spells totalling 24 overs either side of tea.
Hampshire's batsmen scored at fewer than three runs an over but Adams seemed to have done the hard work when he reached 50 for the third time in the championship this month.
The pair had been together for 50 overs when Batty's consistency was rewarded as first Adams and then Vince were both leg before playing back to balls that turned out of the rough.
Adams had batted for three hours for his 79, which included 10 boundaries.
Vince followed 10 overs later and, although the follow-on target is still some way off, Hampshire will still feel they should be able to negotiate the final day.
Earlier, Surrey's hopes of accelerating before their declaration were hit when Roy, who had scored a run-a-ball 114 on the second day, was leg before playing back to Kyle Abbott off the first delivery of the day.
Wilson's purple patch continued and he was on course for a second successive championship hundred when he inside-edged Matt Coles and lost his middle stump for 82.
Kevin O'Brien was held on the midwicket boundary for 17 to give Coles a second wicket before Batty and Tim Linley, with 27 and 21 respectively, added an unbroken 44 in eight overs prior to the declaration.
Adams is confident his side can bat through the final day and get the draw that would keep third-placed Surrey at arm's length in the promotion race.
He said: "Their bowlers did stifle us a bit after tea but it's still a pretty good wicket to bat on. There is some turn and occasionally the ball is keeping low but there aren't too many gremlins in the pitch.
"I think we're good enough to get through tomorrow if we bat sensibly."
Roy believes his 114 was the best championship hundred of his career.
He said: "I don't think I have batted better in four-day cricket. I had a nice partnership with Gary Wilson and just kept things simple. It was disappointing to get out so early today but they bowled well at us this morning.
"Our spinners then bowled really well and if we are patient tomorrow then we might be able to pull off a miraculous win."