Oliver fights back after Gidman ton
Worcestershire 191 and 154 for 2 (Oliver 84*, Kervezee 50*) trail Gloucestershire 378 (Gidman 146, Roderick 98) by 30 runs
Worcestershire's hopes of setting an early date for a promotion party took a knock as Alex Gidman's second century of the season put Gloucestershire in a powerful position at New Road.
Yet all may not be lost for the Second Division leaders. Their bowlers found a better line on the second day, Joe Leach's spell of 4 for 23 wrapping up Gloucestershire's first innings for 378 before opener Richard Oliver continued the fightback with his second half-century of the game.
Batting again with a deficit of 184 after Gidman's punishing knock of 146, Worcestershire could easily have folded when Daryl Mitchell gloved a lifter from Craig Miles and Tom Fell edged a drive off David Payne inside nine overs. Gidman held both chances at first slip, but Oliver's response was in trademark style, going for his shots at every opportunity.
The left hander reached a career-best 84 not out from 111 balls and Alexei Kervezee also played a key role with 50 as an unbroken stand of 122 cut the gap to only 30.
On the second morning the West Country team were holding all the aces with half-centuries by Gareth Roderick and Gidman already on the board when they resumed at 181 for 2. Five overs brought the 14 runs required for the lead, but Charlie Morris, in a good spell from the New Road Wnd, issued a warning that the batsmen could expect a tougher examination.
Gidman, on 69, was dropped at first slip, then a single brought Roderick on to strike, needing two runs for a century on his return to the side after twice breaking a finger this season. The South African wicketkeeper-batsman instinctively pulled a short ball, but only found Shaaiq Choudhry at long leg. Having played so well, hitting 15 fours, it would have been frustrating to miss a gift from the 119th ball he faced.
Gidman's progress from 76 to 100 with six fours in a row was far from secure, with four of the boundaries coming from edges, but this sketchy patch was quickly forgotten as he motored on from his century in 165 balls. It was a good way for the former county captain to mark his temporary return to leading the side in the absence of Michael Klinger through injury.
Positive from the outset, he heaped further pressure on Worcestershire in stands of 56 with Hamish Marshall and 58 with Benny Howell. Marshall provided a solitary wicket for spin when caught behind off Choudhry and Ian Cockbain went cheaply, cutting Morris to third slip, but the lead was almost 150 before Worcestershire rallied to take maximum bowling points for the 25th match in succession.
Starting with Howell's lbw dismissal by Leach for 32, the last five wickets tumbled for the addition of 36, the most significant when Gidman was bowled, attempting to drive Leach. He hit 22 fours and a six from 232 balls.
Matt Mason, Worcestershire's assistant coach, saw signs of a recovery in the making as the team reflected on their first day troubles: "Sitting around the dressing room after a day like that, it can easily be a quiet sort of deflated place. But the lads were talking and discussing where we've gone wrong, which means they are learning. We've had some iffy days throughout the campaign and we've always come back strongly."