WORCESTERSHIRE Rapids missed the chance to close the gap on Vitality Blast North Group leaders Lancashire when they lost by 20 runs at Derbyshire Falcons.

Billy Godleman made 92 from 65 balls – his highest T20 score – and Luis Reece 51 as the Falcons posted an imposing 181-2.

Former Derbyshire batsman Martin Guptill hit 45 from 40 but leg-spinner Matt Critchley celebrated his 23rd birthday by taking 4-36 as Rapids subsided to 161-7.

Worcestershire sit in third with four wins and three losses ahead of Thursday’s trip to fifth-placed Durham.

It looked promising for the visitors when Dillon Pennington opened with a maiden but that was the calm before the storm as Godleman reeled off a salvo of boundaries in the next two overs.

Wayne Parnell’s first ball was launched over the long off boundary and Pennington was driven for three consecutive fours before Reece dispatched Parnell several rows back into the stand at the City End.

The Falcons took 57 from the power-play and the runs continued to flow as the openers rotated the strike with Rapids rarely threatening to take a wicket.

Godleman reached 50 from 29 balls and after Falcons reached the halfway point on 87 without loss, the pair scored freely without taking any undue risks.

Reece pulled Joe Leach for his sixth four to bring up his 50 from 38 balls and Rapids had to wait until the 16th over for the breakthrough which came when Reece drilled Daryl Mitchell to cover.

But they had slowed the scoring rate although Goldeman past his previous highest T20 score of 77 by lifting Ed Barnard over wide mid-wicket for his ninth four.

Wayne Madsen drove Parnell for six but after Godleman failed to clear the man on the deep cover boundary, Leus du Plooy hit the last two balls from Pat Brown for four.

Although Falcons looked on course for 200, Rapids faced a tough chase which became harder when the dangerous Riki Wessels failed to respond to Guptill’s call and was run out in the second over.

Callum Ferguson cut and drove Fynn Hudson-Prentice for consecutive fours but at 47 for 1 at the end of the powerplay, Rapids had to live up to their name if they were going to get close.

Ferguson powered Boyd Rankin high over mid-wicket for six and pulled the next ball for four before Guptill drove Reece for six over long on to leave Rapids needing 100 from the last 10.

But the introduction of Critchley proved decisive as Ferguson drove him to long on, Guptill was bowled trying to cut and Parnell, after driving him for six, failed to clear long off when he tried to repeat the shot.

Ben Cox and Barnard drove him for big sixes, but the night belonged to him and Falcons as Rapids came up well short.