Lancashire lost a nail-biting Friends Provident t20 quarter final against Essex Eagles, going down by eight wickets with five balls to spare.
The Lightning could not defend their imposing 183-6, owing much to a brilliant second wicket partnership between former home skipper Mark Pettini and ex-Kent man Matt Walker.
Having been reduced to 17-1 in the third over of their chase – Glen Chapple had Ravi Bopara caught behind by Gareth Cross – the Eagles were on the ropes as they looked to secure their place at the Rose Bowl next month.
But Pettini hit 81 off 56 balls and left handed Walker finished 74 not out off 49 balls, the pair sharing 147 in 15 overs.
Sajid Mahmood bowled Pettini at the end of the 18th over, forcing the hosts to get 20 off the last two overs, but captain James Foster hit Chapple for three boundaries in the 19th to kill the contest.
Essex, who now face Hampshire at Finals Day in the last four, clinched the win at the start of the last over.
Lancashire’s night got worse with the news that opening batsman Stephen Moore dislocated his right shoulder whilst fielding a ball in the deep. Chapple also suffered a suspected back injury whilst batting.
After Paul Horton, Tom Smith and Mahmood scored 44, 35 and 34 respectively, further boosted by important cameos from Chapple (28 not out) and Steven Croft (27), Lancs looked on course to clinch a place at Finals Day.
They recovered from the loss of Moore, trapped lbw by David Masters with the first ball of the match, as Smith and Croft shared 42 for the second wicket.
Horton and Mahmood, promoted up the order to No.5, then shared 49 for the fourth wicket to give Lancs real impetus in moving from 93-3 in the 12th to 142-4 in the 17th.
Chris Wright did his best to halt the Lightning with 4-25 from his four, trapping Horton lbw and bowling Mahmood in the same 17th over. Chapple, however, hit a six and two fours to push Lancashire past the 180 mark.
Chapple hit his six off Wright over mid wicket, and that was what started his injury problems but returned to the field to take the new ball.
The Lancashire skipper had Bopara caught behind in the 3rd over – and, thanks to the heroics of Pettini and Walker, that was as good as it got for the Lightning.
They will have to pick themselves up for Thursday’s trip to face Hampshire at the Rose Bowl in the LV= County Championship.
Graham Hardcastle at Chelmsford
Photo: Simon Pendrigh, Peakpix Digital Images
(c) Lancashire CCC Ltd