Hampshire need to win their last five C&G Trophy games to qualify for a second successive Lord's final - after suffering a last-ball defeat against Kent at The Rose Bowl.

Successive losses against Middlesex last week and by four wickets Kent yesterday means they have to win their remaining five South Conference games, starting against Somerset at Taunton on Sunday.

They will also need to beat Gloucestershire at The Rose Bowl at the end of the month, and Surrey at Whitgift on June 4, to set up what could be a crucial game against Sussex at Hove in five weeks' time.

Otherwise, the last game against Glamorgan will be a dead rubber.

Yesterday's defeat was Hampshire's first at The Rose Bowl in the C&G Trophy since May 2003 - another last-over sickener against Sussex.

Three years on and Sussex are the only county with a 100 per cent record in the South Conference after Hampshire's two defeats in eight days.

This latest setback emphasised how thin the line between success and failure in one-day cricket can be.

So much so that all three results were possible with a single Dominic Thornley delivery remaining of yesterday's encounter.

The scores were level when the ball was squirted out on the on side by the left hander Matthew Walker, whose outstanding unbeaten 29 from 23 balls won his side the game.

Thornely's despairing dive deflected it beyond the reach of a teammate just a few hours after he had been celebrating the first hundred (107* from 111 balls) of his limited-overs career.

Kent looked to be heading for a rare defeat when they needed 18 runs to win from the last seven balls.

But, having failed to lay bat on ball against Warne's two previous deliveries, Andrew Hall lifted the Australian's last contribution to the match over-mid wicket for six.

It was a telling blow and the diminutive but inspired Walker then took seven runs from the first three balls of the last over as Kent closed in on their first C&G Trophy win of the season.

Hampshire's hopes were raised when Hall skied a catch to Lamb at fly slip, but Walker drove the next delivery straight past Thornely for four.

With the scores now level, Walker knew he needed a single for Kent to win both points as the number of wickets lost does not determine who wins when the totals are tied.

Walker's refusal to panic ensured his side did not lose successive C&G Trophy games off the last ball, following Kent's one-run defeat against Surrey in their last match.

Hampshire will be targeting a similarly positive response against Somerset at Taunton on Sunday but were pleased to have set Kent 259 to win after winning the toss.

Thornely had hitherto scored only ten runs in three one-day innings for Hampshire, but the Australian had shown evidence of his powerful hitting earlier in the week at Edgbaston, where he struck three successive sixes in the championship win against Warwickshire.

He only managed one maximum hit against Kent, lofting slow left armer Rob Ferley over long-off, but reached his fifty from 52 balls and continued to score at a lively pace for the rest of the innings.

Hampshire will rue the dismissals of John Crawley (20 from 40 balls) and former Kent batsman Michael Carberry (33 from 55 balls), who ran themselves out after promising starts.

The loss of Sean Ervine (eye infection) did not help their cause but they will look back at other match-changing incidents. Neil Dexter (39 from 42 balls) was dropped at mid-on by Shaun Udal on 22 and a slimline Rob Key (76 from 105 balls) was bowled off a no ball on 36.

Kent always had wickets in hand and the big hitters in their middle order to capitalise, but Warne may well regret his decision to give part-time off spinner Greg Lamb an over when James Bruce, Billy Taylor and Shaun Udal did not bowl their full allocation.

The last two balls of Lamb's only over, the 39th, were struck for successive leg-side sixes by Justin Kemp (29 from 28 balls), whose departure three overs later signalled the arrival of match-winner Walker.