Lancashire on the rack at Aigburth
Skipper Michael Yardy completed a valuable century and Australian debutant Steve Magoffin picked up three second-innings wickets as Sussex strengthened their hold over LV= County Champions Lancashire at Aigburth.
Yardy’s 110 enabled the visitors, who were aided by four dropped catches in the morning session, to reach 300 all out on day two.
Faced with a deficit of 176, Lancashire then slumped to 85 for four at stumps as Magoffin followed up an impressive opening-day performance by claiming 3-14.
Gaining appreciable bounce from the River End, the accurate 32-year-old proved irresistible in the early evening on a lively surface offering continued assistance to the seamers.
Given the challenges posed by the pitch, Yardy’s innings, though far from chanceless, was hugely impressive.
Always keen to rotate the strike, the left-hander, put down on 85 and 98, drove efficiently and also prospered on the back foot, pulling with confidence on the odd occasion when Lancashire’s bowlers dropped short.
His innings soon gained greater value as the hosts, skittled for 124 on day one, struggled with the bat once again.
Ashwell Prince and Luke Procter shared an unbroken partnership of 36 for the fifth wicket, but their side faced an uphill task to avoid opening their season with defeat for the first time in 14 years. When Lancashire last lost their first game, it was against Sussex at Hove.
It was revealed this morning that Ed Joyce, 48 not out overnight, had almost missed the game due to illness.
The Ireland batsman was the first to fall today, for 64, although by that stage both he and Yardy had been dropped in the slips.
Stephen Moore, who spilled a low chance to reprieve Sussex’s captain, made amends for his error when he accepted an edge from Joyce in Procter’s first over.
Procter then saw wicketkeeper Gareth Cross drop Joe Gatting, before Yardy received a second life, Paul Horton shelling a second catch of the day at first slip off Sajid Mahmood.
Yardy duly moved to three figures, from 142 deliveries, but Sussex struggled to kick on after lunch, losing four for 33 inside 22 overs.
Simon Kerrigan did the initial damage, having Yardy stumped and Gatting caught behind for 18 while Procter kept things tight from the River End.
The new ball was then taken and, following a series of probing overs from Glen Chapple and Kyle Hogg, the former had Magoffin and Ben Brown caught in the slips.
A ninth-wicket stand of 43 between Amjad Khan, who took a particular liking to the wayward Mahmood en route to 28, and James Anyon boosted Sussex before Procter struck twice in three balls to wrap up the innings.
Procter finished with 3-48, with the ever-reliable Chapple having taken 3-61.
Batting remained tricky when Lancashire began their second innings after tea as new-ball pair Anyon and Magoffin continued where they had left off on day one.
Moore did pull a rare loose delivery from the Queenslander for four, but Magoffin responded in style by taking wickets with his next two balls.
Yardy collected a thick edge from Moore at first slip and Karl Brown was lbw for a golden duck after shouldering arms to one that shaped back.
Magoffin soon struck again when Horton picked out Luke Wells at third slip and Monty Panesar then got in on the act, bowling Steven Croft for eight as the batsman played back.
Lancashire could at least take heart from the performance of Prince, who was assured in reaching 31 not out under increasingly overcast skies.