WORCESTERSHIRE'S County Championship Division Two clash at Gloucestershire moved towards a potentially exciting conclusion at sweltering Cheltenham.

The hosts closed the third day on 149-8 with a lead of 210 and all results are still possible on a pitch that has continued to give assistance to the seam bowlers.

David Payne (3-73) claimed his 250th first-class wicket when he dismissed Dillon Pennington (1) lbw after Worcestershire started the day on 232-6 in reply to 354.

At one point they slipped to 246-9 before a defiant last-wicket stand of 47 between captain Joe Leach (38) and Adam Finch.

Gloucestershire, without seamer Matt Taylor due to a side strain, led by just 61 on first innings.

Soon they were in trouble at 47-4 as Leach, Ed Barnard and Wayne Parnell made good use of the new ball.

Ryan Higgins steadied things with an aggressive 36 but the visitors kept chipping away.

Parnell ended the day with 3-29 from 12 overs.

With the second new ball only three overs old, Gloucestershire made early inroads.

Only eight runs had been added when Parnell (17) edged Ethan Bamber (3-59) through to wicketkeeper James Bracey and two more quick wickets followed.

Brett D’Oliveira had added only two to his overnight 66 when caught at second slip by Miles Hammond, who had dropped him in the same position on three, off Bamber.

Payne sent back Pennington to be warmly applauded by another 2,000-plus festival crowd.

But from then on Leach farmed the strike intelligently to frustrate Gloucestershire for 22 overs before being bowled by Higgins.

Finch, twice struck by short balls from Payne, saw out 52 deliveries to end unbeaten on a gutsy eight.

Leach’s dismissal brought a delayed lunch and with his third ball of Gloucestershire’s second innings the skipper had opposite number Chris Dent caught behind for a duck.

Then Gareth Roderick (12), Hammond (17) and Bracey (16) fell cheaply to the new ball which was occasionally keeping low.

Higgins counter-attacked with six fours in his 35-ball innings before he was caught behind driving at a wide ball from Pennington.

At tea the home side were 105-5, leading by 166.

Tom Smith and the normally aggressive Jack Taylor had to battle for every run against accurate bowling in the final session.

They took the total to 132 when Smith (25) edged Parnell to Riki Wessels at first slip.

Jack Taylor contributed a responsible 20 off 91 balls before Barnard had him caught behind.

Without addition, Benny Howell (4) clipped a catch tamely to mid-on to gift leg-spinner D’Oliveira a wicket.

After a day of unbroken sunshine a shower then ended play two overs early.

Matt Taylor is expected to bat at number 11 but not to bowl in the County's second innings.