Kirby polishes Essex off
Steve Kirby completed a 10-wicket match haul as Gloucestershire recorded only their second LV County Championship win of the season at the expense of Essex at Southend.
The visitors triumphed by 70 runs as Essex were bowled out for 259 and Kirby finished with figures of 10-116.
He picked up four of the remaining wickets after Essex had resumed on 161 for four in pursuit of a target of 330, his first arriving in only the second over of the morning when James Foster was bowled.
The only prolonged resistance was provided by Ryan ten Doeschate and Alex Tudor, who put on 47 for the eighth wicket.
While they were together Essex still nursed slender hopes of victory, but they disappeared with the return of Vikram Banerjee.
The left-arm spinner struck in his first over back by having ten Doeschate neatly taken at slip for 58 by Craig Spearman, his fourth catch of the innings.
Danish Kaneria followed in the same over before Tony Palladino completed Kirby's nap hand as he ended with 5-75 in 21.5 overs in the second innings. Tudor was left unbeaten on 29.
Mark Pettini, the Essex captain, confessed afterwards that defeat was a massive blow to his side's promotion hopes but refused to rule out the possibility of his side reaching Division One.
"I don't want to take anything away from the performances of Jonathan Lewis and Kirby as we were bowled out for 88 in our first innings, but obviously that total was not good enough and a telling factor in the result," Pettini said.
"But there was not a massive difference between the two sides at the end.
"Despite this defeat we still have not given up on promotion. There are still four matches to go and a lot can happen between now and the end of the season."
Gloucestershire left Southend with the bonus of an extra day off and 19 points, while Pettini and his players had to settle for just three points.