O'Brien too much for Middlesex again
Gloucestershire 165 for 4 beat Middlesex 140 for 7 by 25 runs
Big-hitting Kevin O'Brien underlined his value to Gloucestershire by terrorising the Middlesex attack for the second time in a fortnight.
Having smashed the Panthers bowling all around Uxbridge to post a match-winning 119 last month, he meted out further rough treatment, plundering an unbeaten 58 from 29 balls to propel the Gladiators to a welcome 25-run Friends Life t20 victory at Bristol and consign Middlesex to bottom place in the South Group.
Veteran campaigner Chris Taylor also contributed a half-century as the Gladiators made 165 for 4 after being put in to bat, the highest score in any T20 game at the County Ground this season.
It proved too big an ask for the Panthers, whose lack of touch and confidence was evident as they subsided to 140 for 7. Jamie Dalrymple and Dawid Malan gave the visitors brief hope in a third-wicket alliance of 52 in six overs, but Middlesex lost momentum after the latter was bowled by academy spin-bowling product Jack Taylor for 32.
Shot out for a meagre 81 by Glamorgan Dragons in their last Bristol outing on Sunday, the Gladiators owed it to their supporters to put on a better show in this, their final home game of what has been a disappointing campaign.
After the swift departure of Kane Williamson, Chris Taylor provided the innings with crucial early momentum, crashing 19 runs off Ryan McLaren's first over and dominating a stand of 38 in four overs with New Zealander Hamish Marshall.
England paceman Steve Finn beat Williamson for pace and Steven Crook had Marshall caught at short mid-wicket, but Taylor continued to score fluently in the face of some wayward bowling, accruing 50 from 33 balls and smiting seven fours and a six.
Ian Cockbain offered Taylor valuable support, contributing 28 from 32 balls and playing the anchor role in a third-wicket partnership that yielded 46 runs and provided vital mid-innings momentum.
Taylor was eventually stumped by John Simpson for 51 in the act of giving spinner Tom Smith the charge and Cockbain holed out to deep square-leg off McLaren, after which O'Brien took up the cudgels in thrilling fashion.
The big Irishman proved especially severe on the hapless Crook, crashing 20 runs from three balls at the start of the final over, twice smashing him to the long-on boundary, then clubbing him for six over cover before swatting a no-ball over square leg for another maximum to make a mess of the seamer's figures.
Middlesex never recovered from the loss in the second over of captain Chris Rogers, the Australian edging a catch behind to give the impressive Ian Saxelby an early breakthrough.
It was left to the experienced Dalrymple to carry the fight to Gloucestershire and he top-scored with 36 from 34 balls. But Ed Young ended any hopes of a Middlesex win, dismissing Tom Scollay and Dalrymple with successive deliveries in the 15th over to leave the visitors with a mountain to climb.