Martin van Jaarsveld and Geraint Jones steered Kent to a six-wicket win over Essex early on day three at Canterbury, although the victory was tempered by an eight-point penalty for a "poor" pitch.
Set a target of 70, Graham Napier (3-42) struck three times and David Masters (1-22) once as Kent slipped to 35-4.
But fifth-wicket duo Van Jaarsveld (21no) and Jones (28no) combined for a 37-run stand to see Kent across the line half-an-hour before lunch.
An ECB pitch panel was convened on Friday morning by pitch liaison officer John Jameson and they rated the surface as "poor" - meaning Kent were hit with a points deduction, which they will not appeal.
The third day began with Essex, struggling in their second innings and only 64 ahead with one wicket intact.
That wicket fell to the 14th delivery of the day when on-loan David Balcombe had Tom Craddock caught behind for one leaving James Foster high and dry on 49 not out.
It gave Balcombe career-best match figures of 10-102 - his first 10-wicket match haul.
Kent look on course for victory at Canterbury after Essex closed day two on 180-9 in their second innings, giving them a lead of just 64.
Having been dismissed for 144 in their first innings, Essex only just managed to fair better second time around thanks to 44 not out from skipper James Foster.
Billy Godleman managed to make 36 and Jaik Mickleburgh 39 but three wickets apiece from David Balcombe, Matt Coles and James Tredwell has left the visitors staring at defeat.
However, Kent could yet be penalised for a below-par pitch - after the loss of 15 wickets on day one, a further 14 fell at St Lawrence on Thursday as the ECB pitch liaison officer, John Jameson, watched from the pavilion.
Kent had managed to make 260 in their first innings - giving them a 116-run advantage - despite David Masters taking 6-78.
Geraint Jones and Tredwell shared a crucial sixth-wicket stand of 97 that saw the former post just his third half-century of the LV= County Championship season.
He eventually fell when he missed an attempted sweep against Tom Craddock to go leg before for 54. Tredwell went for 47 during a fine spell from seamer Masters that saw him claim 3-1 in the space of nine balls.
Overcast conditions gave the bowlers the edge at Canterbury, where 15 wickets fell on the opening day the derby clash between Kent and Essex.
Having rolled over the visitors for 144, Kent limped to 160-5 for a meagre lead of 16 on a wicket that might yet catch the eye of ECB pitch liaison officers come day two.
Essex lost five wickets during an overcast first session, with captain James Foster top-scoring with a watchful 38 from 75 balls before skying a slower ball to extra cover as David Balcombe took career-best figures of 6-51.
It was Balcombe's third haul of five wickets or more in an innings in his four championship starts for Kent, and took his championship tally to 20.
Responding to Essex's modest first-innings total, Kent - who were without injured captain and opening batsman Rob Key - posted 51 for the first wicket before Daniel Bell-Drummond was stumped by James Foster off former Kent seamer David Masters.
In-form Joe Denly coasted to a 48-ball 50 and appeared in little until another one from Masters kept a little low to snare the right-hander leg before and make it 79 for two.