SOMERSET’S hopes of qualifying for the Vitality Blast knockout stages hang by a thread, after Sunday’s 11-run defeat at home to close rivals Gloucestershire.

Despite a brilliant 82 from young Will Smeed, in only his second Somerset match, the hosts failed to chase down Gloucestershire’s 203-6, and have now lost four of their seven T20 games this season.

Realistically they will need to win all three of their remaining games - starting away to Glamorgan on Wednesday - to have any hope of making the quarter-finals.

Put in to bat, Gloucestershire raced to 109-2 thanks to Ian Cockbain’s 50.

That became 111-5 as three wickets fell inside two overs (Max Waller finishing with 3-18 off four), but Jack Taylor (31*) and Benny Howell (49*) pushed their side on to a challenging total of 203-6.

Again, the Somerset openers of Babar Azam (10) and Steve Davies (12) fell early, and the loss of Tom Abell (5) and George Bartlett (4) - both run out by Chris Dent - left the hosts on 72-4.

It was up to 18-year-old Smeed (82 off 49 balls) to keep the chase alive.

His partnerships with Lewis Gregory (38) and Tom Lammonby (17) pushed Somerset past 170, but when Smeed and Lammonby departed off successive Ryan Higgins (3-47) deliveries, the game was up.