Sussex v Lancashire, Hove, 3rd day July 1, 2008

Chapple leaves Sussex struggling

Sussex 253 and 223 for 6 (Goodwin 77*, Chapple 4-49) lead Lancashire 392 (Law 158, Keedy 64) by 85 runs

Andrew Flintoff bowled with pace, but without luck, as Lancashire continued to control the match at Hove © Getty Images
There is a slow pace to life down by the sea at Hove, and the same can be said about the pitch for this Championship game which has become more docile by the session. However, led by a big-hearted display from Glen Chapple, Lancashire chipped away at the Sussex second innings and are poised for a crucial victory in a tight first division. Murray Goodwin remains Sussex's best chance of setting a challenging chase, after battling hard for 77, but a dodgy forecast could yet have the final say.

Andrew Flintoff, though, injected a fiercer mood to proceedings with three hostile spells. His first involved a engaging battle with Chris Adams, who came perilously close to providing Flintoff with his first wicket of the match. A thick edge flew very low towards Paul Horton at first slip, but Adams was unsure whether it had carried. It was a rare occasion of TV being available for a Championship match and, as is often the case, the replays added more doubt. In the end it was given not out, much to the frustration of Lancashire.

Flintoff ran in even harder, striking Adams on the bicep, before taking a breather after lunch. He returned in mid-afternoon and should have removed Matt Prior on 16, but the edge flew at waist height between the keeper and first slip. Then, in the final session, he tested out the middle of the pitch, pinging Goodwin and Ollie Rayner on the helmet but still his first wicket of the game proved elusive.

Instead, the main wicket-taker was Chapple - who has missed a large part of the season with injury - as he extracted some testing reverse swing. His first wicket was more conventional as Michael Yardy flayed outside off stump, a waste of two hours' watchful batting. Adams, already with his left-off against Flintoff, then dragged into his stumps for the second in the match to continue a poor Championship season.

At 89 for 3, Sussex were still a distance behind but were pushed into the lead by a stand of 61 between Prior and Goodwin. Once again Prior looked classy, but he too benefited from the judgement of Richard Illingworth, the third umpire, when he came within millimetres of being run out by Steven Croft. The pictures were replayed at least a dozen times in about three minutes, and in the end the benefit of doubt had to go to the batsman. However, just as Prior was threatening Faf du Plessis trapped him lbw, his second important breakthrough of the match.

Carl Hopkinson didn't last long as Chapple began to get the ball to hoop around, but his fourth wicket was down to a superb catch by Croft at backward point. Robin Martin-Jenkins drove hard and Croft flung himself horizontally to hold his second sharp grab of the innings, having earlier snaffled a low one off Sajid Mahmood to remove Chris Nash.

Lancashire scented the chance to make further inroads during the final hour, but a long stint in the field on one of the warmest days of the year began to take its toll. Flintoff, though, was still bowling as quickly at the close as he was when he began around midday, while in another innings Gary Keedy would have enjoyed some reward for 31 tight overs.

Stuart Law's outstanding innings is shaping as a match-winner and he was left unbeaten on 158 as Lancashire's last two wickets could only add a further 10 runs. It meant they missed out on a full hand of batting points by eight runs, but that will be of minimal concern if they can wrap up victory on the final day.

Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer at Cricinfo