Worcestershire Rapids went down by 30 runs in their latest Vitality Blast encounter with Gloucestershire at Bristol.
The Rapids were set a stiff 182 target after Vitality Blast Captain Ed Barnard picked up three wickets and spinner Jake Libby and paceman Pat Brown produced tidy spells.
But they lost three key early wickets and found it an uphill challenge to come to terms with the required scoring rate against some accurate Gloucestershire bowling despite another good knock from Jake Libby and closed on 151-9.
It was the Rapids fourth successive defeat in the Blast, but now Worcestershire will turn their attention to Sunday’s crucial Bob Willis Trophy encounter with Somerset with a potential Lord’s final spot at stake.
Head Coach Alex Gidman said: “Look, it’s another tough loss. I’ve just said to the lads we are not a million miles off. We are not just quite doing the basics of the game as well as our opponents are.
“They are doing it for 20 overs. We are doing it with bat and ball for 15-16 overs and against good teams that is not going to be enough to get us over the line.
“I think that has been the difference between winning and losing against the teams we have played against.
“There is no denying we are chasing a few too many. That is probably the case today, certainly yesterday and, quite frankly speaking, Monday as well.
“That is probably the easiest part of the game to see the basics of the game not being executed quite long enough.
“I said to the guys this morning that the huge positive, apart from Saturday, is we have scored 175, over 200 and, again today, 150 odd which was probably below par but, when we are chasing, it’s still a sizeable score, but it would seem we are chasing too many.
“But we’ve got some young bowlers in the team, so there is going to be an element of inconsistency. However, it is important we don’t hide behind that very much or for very long, and we clearly need to start improving quickly.”
The Rapids made one change with all-rounder Brett D’Oliveira returning the side in place of the rested Daryl Mitchell.
Barnard put Gloucestershire into bat, and paceman Adam Finch made the first breakthrough in the fifth over when George Hankins (7) chopped a delivery onto his stumps.
Brown bowled two overs in his first spell for just nine runs as Gloucestershire reached 51-1 in the initial six-over powerplay.
Chris Dent followed his 60 at Blackfinch New Road on Monday with a 31-ball half-century.
Barnard accounted for Ian Cockbain (18) who tried to make room but only succeeded in wafting the ball into the cover region where D’Oliveira took an excellent low catch.
Libby came into the attack and conceded only four runs in his first over as the home side reached 84-2 at the half-way stage.
Barnard produced a fine delivery to defeat the forward push of Ryan Higgins who lost his off stump after making 17.
He claimed a third scalp in ending Dent’s fine innings on 87 when he holed out to Riki Wessels at long-on and finished with 3-44 from his four overs.
Libby continued to be hard to get away, and his four overs only yielded 27 runs and just one boundary.
With Brown bowling a tight last over and conceding just 16 in three overs, Gloucestershire closed on 181-4 with James Bracey ended undefeated on 39 from 20 balls.
When Worcestershire batted, Hamish Rutherford (1) was caught at mid-on with nine on the board in the second over of the innings from Matt Taylor.
Wessels pulled David Payne for four and new batsman Jack Haynes produced a similar stroke against Ryan Higgins which cleared the ropes.
Higgins bowled Haynes (11) via the bottom edge, and Wessels (19) lofted Matt Taylor via the leading edge to Smith at mid-off.
Libby, fresh from his T20 career-best 75 not out against Somerset yesterday, and D’Oliveira took the attack to Graeme van Buuren, and both hit sixes in an over costing 17 runs.
D’Oliveira then smashed Smith over the mid-wicket boundary, and the Rapids were well in the hunt at 77-3 at the ten over mark.
The D’Oliveira-Libby stand was worth 57 in 6.5 overs when the former on 26 tried to swing a George Scott delivery onto the leg side and was caught by Payne at short fine leg.
Ben Cox smashed Scott straight back down the ground to bring up the 100 in the 14th over before on 14 he tried to reverse sweep Higgins and was caught at short third man.
Libby made 33 off 23 balls but was then run out attempting a second run after pulling a delivery from Payne backward of square.
Barnard improvised in twice collecting fours with ramp shots off Matt Taylor after pulling him for six.
Whiteley (12) collected six and four from successive balls from Higgins (4-34) before holing out to deep mid-wicket and Dillon Pennington (2) was lbw in the same over.
Barnard (16) was bowled by Payne attempting a scoop shot in the penultimate over.