Kent kept their promotion hopes alive after wrapping up a 222-run victory over fellow title challengers Derbyshire on the final day at Canterbury.
The Spitfires took the nine Derby wickets required to claim victory with just under a session to spare and will go into next week's final game of the season just six points behind the table-topping Falcons, who have seen their lead slashed to just a single point by Yorkshire.
Requiring an unlikely 404 for victory, Derbyshire resumed the final day on 30-1 with survival their only objective.
Australian batsman Usman Khawaja offered spirited resistance to make 53 however his dismissal prompted a sharp collapse with the visitors eventually folding for 181.
Veteran all-rounder Darren Stevens continued his superb season to record figures of 4-37, while Matt Coles (3-29) and Mark Davies (2-31) also proved too hot to handle.
The Division Two season will reach its thrilling climax next week where Derbyshire host Hampshire, Kent visit Glamorgan and Yorkshire travel to Essex.
Sam Northeast blasted a century as Kent set title-chasing Derbyshire 404 to win in the LV= County Championship Division Two clash at Canterbury.
Kent resumed day three 120 ahead but shaking on 59-3, and two quickfire wickets from Wes Durston and David Wainwright left them in a serious hole.
But opener Northeast led a comeback, sharing a crucial sixth-wicket stand of 137 with Brendan Nash (65) before Wainwright located the latter's edge.
Another century partnership followed for Northeast - this time with Mike Powell (56no) - before Ross Whiteley eventually ended his monumental effort on 165.
Kent declared their second innings on 342-8 and Mark Davies then dented Derbyshire's slim hopes of chasing down a huge total late in the day by removing Wayne Madsen.
Paul Borrington and Usman Khawaja made sure there were no further losses, steering the visitors to 30-1 by stumps and setting up a thrilling final day in a match that means so much for both counties in the battle for promotion.
Derbyshire inched towards the Division Two title despite a defiant effort from Kent on day two at Canterbury.
The home side reached the halfway stage 120 runs ahead with seven second innings wickets left after Mark Davies had impressed with the ball.
Derbyshire's batsmen proved a disappointment in their reply to Kent's opening-day 261, with only Wayne Madsen and Tom Poynton to thank for reaching 200.
Madsen was one of five victims for Davies, who ended with 5-27 from 18 superb overs, but his 64 at least stopped them being dismissed for what could have been a humiliating score.
Poynton contributed 45 from the No 8 spot and added 51 with Tim Groenewald (22) as they at least made it to 200.
And their bowlers managed to eke out three wickets in 25 overs before the close, two of them going to Wes Durston who bowled Rob Key (31) and night-watchman Davies for a duck.
Alex Blake also fell to the final ball of the day, caught behind off David Wainwright, as Derbyshire ended the day with a flourish.
Kent wicketkeeper Geraint Jones scored a half-century to hold up title-chasing Derbyshire, who still claimed maximum bowling points on day one at Canterbury.
Kent, who harbour promotion hopes of their own, had slipped to 93-5 before former England gloveman Jones posted 80 to help the hosts register 261 all out.
Jones is making his 100th consecutive Championship appearance for the county and his contribution was valuable after Sam Northeast and Mike Powell (both 37) had made promising starts.
Tim Groenewald (3-63) led the way with the ball for Derbyshire, while Tony Palladino (2-53) and Ross Whiteley (2-22) also impressed.
Kent had 11 overs to bowl to complete the entertainment in which time they managed to prise out Derbyshire's overseas batsman Usman Khawaja without scoring, leg before when seemingly well down the pitch to Mark Davies.
Derbyshire skipper Wayne Madsen remained unbeaten on 21, but it remains to be seen if regular opener Paul Borrington is fit to bat on day two with the team placed on 32-1. He went off with a fractured nose, the legacy of trying to stop a late-afternoon drive by Davies at extra cover.