At the end of a day in which Alex Gidman and Hamish Marshall redressed the balance between bat and ball, Gloucestershire will never have a better opportunity to register their first LV=County Championship win of the season.
Having emerged from their first four Second Division games with two defeats and a brace of draws, Gloucestershire are overdue a positive result against Kent at the Bristol County Ground.
Senior batsmen Gidman and Marshall staged a defiant stand of 135 in 41 overs for the fourth wicket to ensure their side reached the halfway stage of an absorbing contest firmly in the driving seat.
Gloucestershire reached the close on 213-4, already 351 runs to the good with two days still available to them.
Gidman and Marshall came together with the score on 58-3 and Gloucestershire once again in danger of falling short with the bat. But these two demonstrated steadfast resolve to dig in and claim the initiative on a day when strict application was called for.
Adam Riley is already extracting turn and a hitherto placid wicket seems sure to deteriorate and become more difficult to bat on as the game enters its defining phase.
Gloucestershire will again unleash in-form new ball bowlers Will Gidman and James Fuller at some stage on the third day, after which slow left armer Tom Smith could well come into his own.
Gidman fought manfully to chisel 85 valuable runs from 128 balls. In the context of what had gone before – 23 wickets fell in five sessions – his defiance could yet have a profound influence.
Gidman required 77 balls to pass 50, attaining that particular landmark with a shot off his legs for a single behind square at the expense of off spinner Riley shortly after tea.
Crucially for Gloucestershire, the former England A batsman went on to add to his score rather than succumb to the loss of concentration and poor shot selection that bedevilled so many batsmen on the opening day.
The fourth wicket partnership realised three figures in 31 overs and Marshall raised 50 from 110 deliveries with his seventh four, caressed through the covers off the bowling of Riley.
By the time Gidman top-edged a pull shot to mid-wicket to provide Darren Stevens with a much-needed breakthrough, the home side were 331 runs in front at 193-4.
Marshall is still there on 66 not out and he and Gareth Roderick (13 not out) will look to extend the lead beyond 400 in the morning.
Gloucestershire's top-order batsmen had earlier found the going far from easy against the new ball and some accurate seam bowling from Mitchell Claydon and Stevens.
Openers Michael Klinger and Chris Dent suffered failures in the middle, both departing for single figure.
Unable to move his feet, skipper Klinger was pinned lbw playing half forward to Claydon for four, while left-hander Dent dragged a ball from Stevens onto his stumps with the score on 29, having made heavy weather of scoring eight. Stevens then produced a decent in-swinging delivery to bowl Will Tavare between bat and pad for 27 to keep the visitors in contention.
Kent resumed on 33-6 in the morning, needing another 70 runs to avoid the follow-on. Their chances of doing so were dealt a blow when Riley departed to the third ball of the day, edging a full-length delivery from Will Gidman to wicketkeeper Roderick without scoring.
It was left to Adam Ball and Sam Billings to restore a semblance of normality to proceedings, the eighth wicket pair staging a recovery of sorts in a stand of 68 in 21 overs to at least ensure the visitors avoided the ignominy of following on.
Will Gidman returned figures of 4-14, while Fuller weighed-in with 4-32.