WORCESTERSHIRE fluffed their lines after establishing a winning position at Gloucestershire.

The second-from-bottom County nosedived from 181-5 and then 229-7 to 232 all out while chasing 246 to win and lost by 13 runs at Gloucestershire.

They are without a win in Specsavers County Championship Division Two for eight games since mid-May and this was their fifth defeat.

Ryan Higgins claimed four wickets as Gloucestershire moved into the promotion places with the nerve-jangling success at Cheltenham.

The visitors looked on course at 229-7 before Higgins struck twice quickly for a seam attack missing Matt Taylor due to injury.

The prolific all-rounder finished with 4-64 as Callum Ferguson (63) and 42 from both Riki Wessels and Ben Cox failed to carry Worcestershire home.

Gloucestershire took 23 points from the game to move joint second in the table while the visitors had to settle for five.

A gripping final day began with the hosts looking to add to a disappointing second-innings total of 149-8, 210 in front, and take some time out of the game.

Ninth-wicket pair David Payne and Ethan Bamber took their stand to 40, adding 34 as Worcestershire opted to open with the leg-spin of Brett D’Oliveira from the Chapel End rather than an all-seam attack.

Payne moved to 22 when caught at short cover driving a ball from Ed Barnard.

Adam Finch then replaced D’Oliveira, who had conceded 20 off five overs, and quickly had the injured Taylor caught behind to end the innings at 184.

Worcestershire’s bid to reach their target got off to the worst possible start when Daryl Mitchell edged the first ball from Payne thorough to wicketkeeper James Bracey.

But Wessels then took charge of a second-wicket partnership of 73 with Ferguson, making a positive 42 off 44 balls with five fours and a six.

The stand ended on the stroke of lunch when Wessels took one chance too many and was caught behind attempting to cut left-arm spinner Tom Smith.

The afternoon session saw Barnard (10) give Bracey a third catch, wafting at a short ball from Higgins who had switched to the College Lawn End after conceding 24 runs from his first two overs.

When Higgins had Ross Whiteley lbw for a duck after several loud appeals had been rejected, Worcestershire were on 100-4 and the game was in the balance.

The cool head of Ferguson then took control, well supported by Cox in a partnership of 81 in 28 overs.

The 35-year-old Aussie reached his half-century just before tea having faced 99 deliveries and hit five fours.

Ferguson and Cox had taken the score to 146-4 and continued in the same way after the break, adding a further 35 before the latter blotted his copybook by driving a catch to mid-on off Bamber.

Without left-arm seamer Taylor, Higgins, Bamber and Payne, supported by Smith and Benny Howell, stuck to their task valiantly.

When Cox was dismissed 65 runs were still needed.

Howell ended Ferguson’s resistance with the score on 189, finding an outside edge through to Bracey standing up to the stumps as the batsman looked to play off the back foot.

Howell had taken 2-2 in three overs from the College Lawn End when D’Oliveira (11) was pouched at slip by substitute fielder George Hankins with 48 needed.

Leach and Parnell looked to be closing in on victory when Higgins struck twice in an over.

He bowled both Parnell (15) and Dillon Pennington (0) with 17 still required.

One run later Leach (15 not out) edged Higgins just short of Bracey and amid almost unbearable tension the game ended.

Finch (0) looked to pull a short ball from Payne and only succeeded in getting a top edge to Hankins at second slip.