Sussex 326 for 7 (Joyce 146, Goodwin 60) beat Gloucestershire 292 (Gidman 116*, Marshall 57, Yardy 4-54) by 34 runs
In a match with two excellent centuries, Ed Joyce's career-best 146 outshone Alex Gidman's fine response to guide Sussex into the Friends Provident final with a 34-run victory against Gloucestershire at Hove. On a sun-soaked day with a parched outfield runs flowed freely and the visitors were on course in their pursuit of the target of 325, but they couldn't maintain the momentum until the end.
After his outstanding innings, Joyce produced a vital piece of fielding to run out Hamish Marshall after he and Gidman had added 155 for the second wicket to make the chase look achievable. When Gidman reached a 104-ball hundred there was still a decent chance for Gloucestershire, but those hopes faded when Yasir Arafat showed his brilliance with reverse swing and the Sussex spinners picked up vital wickets.
Kadeer Ali fell early in the chase, but Marshall and Gidman made the most of the fielding restrictions in conditions tough for bowlers to maintain pressure. Balls scudded across the quick outfield but Sussex have a trusted one-day method this season and backed their spinners to play a key role.
Once Marshall was run out, Rory Hamilton-Brown made an important breakthrough when he removed Craig Spearman for 2 and Will Beer, the young legspinner, deserved credit for conceding less than five an over.
Chris Taylor - playing despite a split webbing on his hand - ticked along nicely with Gidman before he was cleaned up by Arafat. Then it was over to the spinners. Michael Yardy had Gidman caught behind and Steven Adshead missed a heave to be well stumped by his opposite number.
Arafat was spearing in his pinpoint yorkers and when James Franklin briefly threatened to jangle Sussex nerves, Yardy closed out the match and finished with four wickets. There has been a changing of the guard at Hove, but Yardy has retained the same team spirit and competitive attitude instilled by Chris Adams.
Yardy was pleased when asked to bat on a used pitch and Sussex set off at a decent rate with Joyce and Chris Nash laying the platform. Joyce, who has enjoyed a new lease of life since moving from Middlesex, played the anchor role, allowing the others to free their arms. Nash fell to Steve Kirby for a 30-ball 32 the Luke Wright cut loose to carve 36 off 26 balls.
Goodwin, the engine of Sussex's one-day batting, then joined Joyce in the key third-wicket stand and the pair began to run Gloucestershire ragged in perfect batting conditions. Joyce picked up sixes over the leg side although the second nearly brought his downfall when Vikram Banerjee clung onto the catch at deep square-leg only for his foot to touch the rope.
Joyce brought up his century with a thick edge down to third man and with two batsmen set Sussex took the batting Powerplay. Runs came at more than nine an over and Goodwin had enough time to also reach three figures before he lost his leg stump against Jon Lewis when he attempted a lap sweep.
Joyce stayed to see the total past 300 before being run out and he certainly picked a good time to set a new career benchmark. Sussex have become used to claiming silverware and are one match away from showing the new-look team can add to the trophy cabinet.