Luke Procter justified his recall with an unbeaten 81 as Lancashire’s cricketers mounted a spirited fightback on the first day of their LV County Championship Division One match against Sussex at Hove.
With two games to go, Lancashire are 12 points adrift of safety, having played a game more than their rivals, and when they slumped to 192 for eight shortly after tea relegation was looming large.
But Procter organised some solid resistance from the tail, adding 68 in 26 overs with Simon Kerrigan before James Anderson, who was making only his eighth Championship appearance since 2011, helped the left-hander thrash 60 in seven overs for the last wicket as Lancashire were bowled out for 320.
Procter faced 155 balls and hit six fours in his crucial knock before Sussex openers Chris Nash and Luke Wells negotiated two maidens before the close.
It was a position Lancashire would have taken having been put in - a decision every captain who has won the toss has adopted at Hove this season.
A newly-laid pitch offered some occasional uneven bounce, but it got easier to bat on as the day progressed, although it was not until Procter, playing his first Championship game since May, came in that Lancashire made the most of improving conditions.
In particular, their batsmen struggled with the short ball as Tom Smith, skipper Glen Chapple and Kerrigan were all caught on the leg-side boundary.
Sussex were playing their first match for 19 days and their first in the Championship at Hove since the first week of July, but there was little evidence of rustiness among their seamers
Steve Magoffin, Chris Jordan and left-armer Lewis Hatchett all impressed with the new ball.
Magoffin picked up opener Paul Horton when he shuffled in front of a straight one; Hatchett claimed the prized scalp of Ashwell Prince, who nibbled at an outswinger, with his fourth ball and Jordan benefited from a switch of ends to remover Karl Brown courtesy of a stunning catch by Joyce at third slip, diving full length to his left to grab the ball inches from the turf.
Magoffin finished with four for 94 and now needs three more for 500 first-class victims, while left-arm spinner Ashar Zaidi, who was recalled after Kent refused Sussex’s request to take James Tredwell on loan for the third time this season, picked up three for 36 in his first Championship appearance since July.
He broke a fourth-wicket stand of 65 between Usman Khawaja and Steven Croft when Khawaja under-edged a cut before picking up Smith, who had been dropped by Joyce on six, for 12 and ending the innings when he had Anderson leg before.
Croft batted well for his 49 before edging another Hatchett away-swinger.