BEN Cox struck a fierce 89 to propel Worcestershire into a strong position against Kent on day three of their LV= County Championship Division Two match at New Road.
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 give Kent a target of 266 to chase.
Cox came in after lunch with his side struggling at 113-5 and produced a gutsy innings, moving past his previous best of 65 before James Tredwell ended his 121-ball stay at the crease.
Ex-Worcestershire paceman Doug Bollinger took 5-43 to keep Kent's hopes up but the visitors were in a spot of bother at 51-3 at the close, needing another 215 to win.
In glorious conditions, England national selector James Whitaker watched the start of play as Worcestershire resumed on 41-0 but Aussie Bollinger soon made inroads.
He had Daryl Mitchell caught behind by Sam Billings for 27, ending a solid opening partnership of 53 with Matthew Pardoe.
Bollinger trapped Moeen Ali lbw for a duck next ball but Tom Kohler-Cadmore avoided becoming his hat-trick victim.
He did not last too long, though, before being caught by Brendan Nash off Tredwell for 18.
Bollinger ended Pardoe's resistance on 43 and when Mitchell Claydon bowled Alexei Kervezee (21) just before lunch, Kent were in command.
Ross Whiteley (34) and Cox rebuilt the hosts' innings with 55 for the sixth wicket before Bollinger got one to nip in to Whiteley.
But 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 Charles Morris 18 for his two.
Cox was the last man out as a maiden first-class century eluded him.
Then, in Kent's final reply, Andrew removed Sam Northeast lbw for a duck with the third ball of the innings.
Andrew removed Rob Key (13) in similar fashion and Shantry trapped Daniel Bell-Drummond lbw for 14.
Nash and Ben Harmison were unbeaten on 14 and nine respectively at the close.