Alex Gidman guides Gloucestershire to tight win
Gloucestershire 261 and 161 for 6 beat Surrey 225 and 195 by four wickets
Gloucestershire leapfrogged hosts Surrey to move into County Championship promotion contention after achieving a determined four-wicket win at The Oval.
Having taken Surrey's five remaining second-innings wickets for 16 runs in the space of 41 balls during the opening session of day three, the West Country visitors recovered from a batting slump of their own to eventually land a 21-point victory with a day to spare.
Gloucestershire's undoubted heroes of the day were middle-order batsman Alex Gidman and muscular paceman Ian Saxelby, who bent his back to deserve career-best figures of 6 for 69 and a personal best match return of 11 for 142. Saxelby started the Surrey rout 16 overs into the day by removing Gareth Batty for 23. Dropped behind in the previous over after nicking a back-foot force, Batty went without addition when edging an airy drive to wicketkeeper Richard Coughtrie.
After adding only 14 to his overnight score of 61 in just over an hour the vigil of Mark Ramprakash was brought to an abrupt end by a good delivery from Jonathan Lewis that jagged in off the seam and kept low to snare the right-hander leg before.
Saxelby then helped run through the tail by having Yasir Arafat caught low down at slip and Tim Linley caught at the wicket, while last man Jade Dernbach holed out to long-on against Lewis to leave Gloucestershire a victory target of 160.
The visitors looked comfortable in reaching 33 without loss soon after lunch, but the loss of five wickets for 21 runs in the space on nine overs left Gloucestershire with plenty to do. Hamish Marshall and Kane Williamson fell in consecutive deliveries from Yasir Arafat and although Chris Taylor survived the hat-trick ball he was soon walking back after edging a leg-side waft to the keeper against the same bowler.
Gloucestershire appeared in trouble when Linley chipped in with the wickets of Chris Dent, superbly caught one-handed at third slip by Tom Maynard, and then Will Gidman caught behind after following an away-swinger, to make it 54 for 5. However, Alex Gidman found a willing ally in Coughtrie and together the sixth-wicket partners added 67 inside 18 overs to break the back of their run chase.
Coughtrie finally had his off stump trimmed by Linley after scoring 10 in 72 minutes, but Gidman marched on to reach a 77-ball half-century and ultimately see the job through. An upright, well-organised right-hander who came into this game with an excellent championship average against Surrey of 64.23, Gidman maintained his form with an unbeaten 76. He watched from the other end as Ed Young clattered successive fours against Linley to clinch the win.
Arafat, with season's best figures of 3 for 49, was the pick of Surrey's all-seam attack but why Brown Caps skipper Hamilton-Brown steadfastly refused to introduce experienced off-spinner Gareth Batty, even though the match situation seemingly demanded a change in tactics and pace, remained a mystery.