BILL Athey drew some encouragement from Worcestershire's display against Warwickshire despite it resulting in his side's third successive defeat in the County Championship.

Several determined batting displays, not least from youngsters Chris Liptrot and Nathan Batson, meant Worcestershire came within nine minutes of earning a draw.

As it was, the dismissal of Alamgir Sheriyar meant the County, who began their second innings needing 372 for victory, lost by just 51 runs.

For Athey, though, the seeds of defeat were sown in Worcestershire's first innings. The Worcestershire coach said: "We were made it too hard for ourselves because we trailed them by 118 runs on the first innings.

"We were always playing catch-up after that. But to finish just 52 runs short of our target and come so close to getting a draw was a good effort.

"There were also some plus points from the performance -- there's no doubt about that. It was good to see Phil Newport not only back in action but also taking some wickets.

"Sheriyar is still bowling well and Chris Liptrot batted brilliantly for a young lad who is new to the game and came in as nightwatchman."

And it was the 19-year-old Liptrot who stole the show from his more experienced team-mates as Worcestershire staged a defiant and almost successful rearguard action.

Signed as paceman less than two months ago, Liptrot responded to his role of nightwatchman by posting the biggest score of his short career. And by some distance.

Until Saturday the teen-ager's best had been the 13 he made against Hampshire. He eclipsed that by making 61 off 108 deliveries, hitting 10 fours in the process.

Just as importantly, Liptrot's defiance used up valuable time before he was trapped leg before by Ashley Giles a quarter-of-an-hour before lunch.

And not only was Liptrot's contribution the highest for Worcestershire in the match, his second wicket stand of 96 with Pollard was also the County's most productive.

Pollard went on to make 58, his best return in the Championship since moving from Nottinghamshire, before Nathan Batson weighed in with his first-class best of 42.

David Leatherdale (46) and Steve Rhodes (28) also played their part in holding up the Bears before falling to the spin of Giles.

The left-armer, who took four for 64, was Warwickshire's most penetrative bowler, but it was the seamers who were called on to end Worcestershire's resistance.

Tim Munton removed Newport before Graeme Welch forced Sheriyar to give a catch to short leg and clinch the victory.