WORCESTERSHIRE and Sussex showed plenty of nerves on the opening day of their key LV= County Championship Division One relegation battle at New Road.

With both teams sitting above the drop-zone in the top-flight, neither seemed willing to stamp their authority on a match which all but guarantees survival for the victor.

As Worcestershire and Sussex struggled to keep their nerves under control, quality was in short supply with the visitors throwing away several wickets.

Meanwhile, the County were slightly disappointing with the ball and, at times, their fielding left a lot to be desired.

But the performance won’t matter one jot for the New Road men if they are victorious.

Having made an early double breakthrough with the ever-reliable Alan Richardson and Kemar Roach dismissing Sussex openers Ed Joyce and Chris Nash, Joe Gatting and Murray Goodwin made the most of some generous bowling.

At lunch, the duo had taken the Hove outfit from 25-2 to 113 without any further loss with Gatting put down on eight by Daryl Mitchell at second slip off Roach.

After the interval, the dangerous Goodwin was given a reprieve on 44 when Alexei Kervezee dropped him at point with the West Indies pace ace, who could have had a five-wicket haul, again the unlucky bowler.

But, despite Gatting and Goodwin both going on to reach half-centuries, their dismissals sparked a mini-collapse from the visitors.

Goodwin was first to fall as he attempted to cut Gareth Andrew only for Vikram Solanki to take the catch at the second attempt at first slip. Gatting quickly followed for 70 as he went playing outside his off-stump to Richard Jones only to nick him behind to Ben Scott.

England wicketkeeper Matt Prior fell for a quick-fire 16 to hand Jones his second wicket of the day as he tossed one up to Moeen Ali at mid-off.

When Michael Yardy went hitting out to Solanki at cover for 13 off Moeen, Sussex had gone from 159-2 to 212-6 before rain prematurely halted the afternoon session.

However, no overs were lost despite the shower and Moeen claimed his second wicket when they returned as he turned the ball to beat Will Adkin and bowl him for 10.

Richardson claimed his 64th wicket of the season when he struck with his first over with the new ball to have Amjad Khan caught behind for 16.

Bad light took the players off with 11 overs of the day remaining with the visitors on 289-8 and Ben Brown unbeaten on 53.