WORCESTERSHIRE'S County Championship Division Two promotion hopes are sinking fast following their ten wicket mauling against Essex at Kidderminster.

Although still holding on to third place in the table, they are 17 points behind leaders Northamptonshire and now 13 adrift of Essex.

To make matters worse they have played a game more than the top two.

For the disappointing County it was the fourth successive year that they have lost at Kidderminster's Chester Road headquarters.

They have now won six, lost four and drawn four since first-class fixtures resumed there in 1987.

Confident Essex wrapped up victory a couple of minutes before lunch on Saturday.

During the entertaining match Worcestershire were only able to chalk up 584 runs in two innings while Essex produced 462 at the first attempt and then comfortably sailed past their modest target of 123 in 35.1 overs.

Paul Prichard hit nine fours and a six in an unbeaten 62 -- his second half-century of the game -- and Paul Grayson stroked 50 with the aid of eight fours off 120 deliveries.

For Prichard it was an impressive recovery after suffering a painful dislocated thumb on the opening day.