Charlie Morris claimed his 50th first-class wicket of the season for Worcestershire but Alex Hughes led a revival for Derbyshire on the opening day of the LV= County Championship match at the 3aaa County Ground.
Morris bowled with control to finish with impressive figures of 4-43 from 23 overs to undermine Derbyshire after half-centuries from Billy Godleman and skipper Wayne Madsen had put them in a strong position.
The Division Two leaders hit back after lunch and secured two bowling points as the home side slipped from 153 for one to 262 for seven before an unbeaten 73 from Hughes steered Derbyshire to 323 for eight at the close.
Worcestershire's bowlers had been frustrated during the opening session by an obdurate innings from Godleman, who dug in after Madsen elected to bat on a sunny morning.
— Derbyshire CCC (@DerbyshireCCC) August 31, 2014
Godleman and Ben Slater saw several edges drop just short of the slips but they were helped by Worcestershire's pacemen bowling too wide at times although Morris was unlucky during an excellent eight-over spell that cost only nine runs.
Joe Leach was more expensive but made the breakthrough in the 20th over when Slater could only fend off a short ball to second slip after scoring 29 in an opening stand of 41 but that was the visitors' only success before lunch.
Although Godleman scored only six from the first 57 balls he faced, he saw off the new ball and played a sound supporting role to Madsen who was soon batting with authority to carry his side to 96 for one at lunch.
He had a let-off on 29 shortly after the interval when he edged Mitchell McClenaghan to third slip, where Tom Fell failed to hold a difficult chance and that was looking expensive for Worcestershire as Madsen pulled Leach square for his ninth four to reach 50 from 72 balls.
He straight-drove McClenaghan for another boundary to bring up the century stand with Godleman but Morris found some late movement to have him caught at first slip for 56 and put his team back in the game.
Godleman edged Morris to first slip after scoring 55 and Chesney Hughes went four overs before tea on his first championship appearance since late April when he left a ball from Leach and was bowled for 13.
Congratulations to @morris_9 on reaching 50 first-class wickets for the year. A fantastic effort in his first full season. Serious bowler.
— Jack Shantry (@JackShantry) August 31, 2014
Jack Shantry had Wes Durston caught low at a wide third slip for 32 and Gareth Cross became Morris' third victim when he edged a push to third slip after Derbyshire had secured a second batting point.
Wayne White had a charmed life on his return to Derbyshire and was dropped twice in the slips against the new ball before Morris beat his defensive prod and bowled him for six, but Alex Hughes played with determination to reach a fifty when he edged Shantry to the third-man boundary.
Shantry lured David Wainwright into chipping a catch to midwicket but Hughes and Tony Palladino gave Derbyshire a good end to a fluctuating day.
Hughes recognised the importance of Godleman and Madsen's batting when he said: "I think the work the openers did and Madders did this morning really set us up to get a score which I think is a good one on that pitch.
"It's very dry so we think it's going to take a bit of spin as we go into the game and deteriorate a bit more and if you bowl well on it, it's tough."
Morris said: "We bowled well at times, certainly in the second session and at the start of the third we bowled really well and pegged it back but it's not been quite consistent enough.
"It's a good cricket wicket, there are certainly runs in there but if you bowl enough balls in the right area you've got a chance."