Sussex v Nottinghamshire, Hove, 3rd day May 27, 2012

Goodwin comes good to keep Notts at bay

Sahil Dutta at Hove

Sussex 309 and 177 for 4 (Goodwin 52*) lead Nottinghamshire 428 (Wessels 199) by 58 runs

With both his team in trouble and his career at a crossroads Murray Goodwin rediscovered his form with an unbeaten half-century to carry Sussex to 177 for 4 - a lead of 58 - going into the final day at Hove.

The older you get, the fewer chances you are granted to prove your worth in first-class cricket. Just ask Mark Ramprakash. Goodwin, at 39 and with just 39 Championship runs in eight hits this season, can't have had many more opportunities. He pipped Luke Wells - a player at the opposite end of his career arc - into the side and after a first-innings failure desperately needed a score.

When Goodwin lost two partners to leave Sussex still 22 behind with only six wickets remaining, both man and team were under pressure. The Sussex faithful clearly thought so, almost giving Goodwin a standing ovation for his first boundary, cut square, as so many have been in his 11-year career at Hove.

The support they showed was matched by Sussex's coach Mark Robinson. "When you have champions like that you want to give him time," he said. "He is our best player so deserved a chance to come good."

While Goodwin fought tooth and claw at one end, Luke Wright was at his carefree best at the other and the pair shared a crucial, unbeaten 78-run stand. With two centuries in his previous two innings Wright is clearly in fine form and he responded to his team's precarious position with a flurry of positive drives early on. A few disappeared to the boundary but one - when he was on 31 - went straight back at the bowler Ben Phillips who, despite a two-handed grab at the ball, saw it plop to the floor. It might well have been the match.

That was as close as Nottinghamshire got to breaking the partnership. Goodwin again received warm applause from the locals when he passed fifty from 124 balls while Wright dialled down his scoring rate to see the day through safely.

Sussex have not lost in any form of the game since the opening match of the season at The Oval but have been up against it here since donating too many their wickets on the first day. With the pitch beginning to wear they would have been wary of Andre Adam's understated hostility. Yet he was unable to bowl because of a shoulder injury that left Andy Carter - in just his 10th first-class game - to carry the attack.

In a burst either side of tea Carter hit perfect rhythm to snare three wickets and leave the home side rocking. Carter is an octopus-like figure with limbs flailing about through his action but when in sync he generated real pace and accuracy. Using the low bounce to his favour he pinned Chris Nash and Michael Yardy lbw and sent Joe Gatting's off stump cartwheeling. He has had a stop-start first-class career, which has included an England Lions outing and a spell on loan with Essex, and was back into the side for the first time since Nottinghamshire's opening game of the season. He comfortably outbowled Harry Gurney and should expect more opportunities this season.

The day began with disappointment for Riki Wessels and damage limitation for Sussex. Wessels needed 16 more for his maiden first-class double-hundred but fell for 199. Having started well, firing a couple of drives down the ground he got a good delivery from the deserving Steve Magoffin and was caught behind. James Anyon's pounded the middle of the pitch at the other to good effect. He had Adam Voges caught at mid-on, Phillips late on a pull and Adams out swishing to fine leg.

All the while Chris Read held strong and together with an uncomfortable-looking Carter added 39 for the ninth wicket. It was enough to give Nottinghamshire a 122-lead which looked decisive until Goodwin and Wright got together. There is time yet for the visitors to stir trouble on the final day but the home side had reason once more to look to Goodwin for inspiration.