BEN Compton recorded his maiden first-class century in England as Kent closed in on matching Essex’s mammoth total in their LV= County Championship Division One clash.

Compton, the South African-born grandson of former England great Denis Compton, scored a patient 129 as Kent ended day three on 405 for five – 109 runs behind the hosts’ mammoth 514.

With Zak Crawley, Jack Leaning, Sam Billings and George Linde all unavailable for this opening fixture – and Joe Denly nursing a hamstring injury – it was the 28-year-old debutant left-hander’s chance to stake a claim for a place at the top of the order.

He did not waste it on a flat wicket that gave no encouragement to bowlers.

Once Kent overhauled the follow-on target with only four wickets down, the draw became inevitable with a day to play.

Jordan Cox weighed in with the fifth century of the match as he reached the close unbeaten on 100.

Compton’s century was his fourth hundred in all formats since the turn of the year.

With a mixture of sound defence and occasional belligerence, he proved a thorn in Essex’s attempt to capitalise on their batting performance.

Compton, whose cousin Nick played Test cricket for England, had a watchful start to the day, needing 15 deliveries to move off his overnight score.

A well-timed pull off Shane Snater took him to 50, while Tawanda Muyeye followed to his own half-century shortly after with a crisp drive through the covers.

The second-wicket pair had put on 121 in 43 overs when Matt Critchley had Muyeye lbw to claim his maiden Essex wicket.

Compton was particularly harsh on Dan Lawrence, who strayed down legside in his first over. The batter flicked two fours off his legs and added a third through midwicket from a full-toss to move swiftly through the 70s into the 80s.

He turned Critchley for the two that took him to three figures from 220 balls shortly after lunch.

Compton’s marathon innings ended after facing 289 balls when he was bowled by a Sam Cook delivery that kept low.

Cox was the more aggressive in the pair’s 123-run third-wicket stand, sending his innings into overdrive with three fours in two overs from Jamie Porter and generally pulling and driving with relish.

Critchley claimed a second wicket when Ollie Robinson was trapped in front, before Cox and Darren Stevens embarked on a cavalier 82-run partnership in 20 overs that scattered the field far and wide.

Stevens became the seventh player in the match to pass 50, but two balls later he thick-edged Lawrence to Sir Alastair Cook at first slip.

All that was left was for Cox to scamper a quick single in the penultimate over of the day to reach the second hundred of his career.