A determined 81-run partnership between eighth-wicket pair Ryan Sidebottom and Gary Ballance salvaged some pride for Yorkshire supporters at Headingley this afternoon.
But it will surely not prevent Andrew Gale’s side from suffering their first County Championship defeat in 19 games at some point in the morning.
Sidebottom, who made 48, and Ballance, who will resume on 46 not out, came together when Yorkshire were parlously placed on 140-7, still needing 120 to make Sussex bat again.
A combination of doughty defence and shrewd strokeplay reduced the arrears to 40 before Sidebottom nicked James Anyon to Chris Jordan at first slip.
Shortly afterwards the umpires took the players off for bad light with the home side on 228-8, still 32 behind and, unless rain intervenes, heading for defeat in their first match back in Division One. On a day when the entire morning session was lost to the weather, Yorkshire’s batsmen had not previously looked like producing the type of prolonged resistance needed to save the game.
Resuming on 27-1, Adam Lyth and Phil Jaques took the total to 60 before Lyth’s airy waft down the leg side off Anyon gave Ben Brown a catch behind the stumps.
Three balls and four runs later a tentative push by Yorkshire skipper Andrew Gale only succeeded in guiding the ball to opposite number Ed Joyce at third slip and the home side’s bid to save the game was on the slide.
Jaques and Jonny Bairstow mounted a short-lived recovery with a stand of 39 but Jordan burst through the young England player’s defences when he had made just 18.
The over that seemed to have all but sealed Yorkshire’s fate was bowled just before the tea break by Steve Magoffin.
He produced a fine delivery to have Jaques caught at slip by Mike Yardy for 57 and then induced Azeem Rafiq to play his first ball on to his stumps.
The Sussex attack was nearly as potent as it had been in the first innings and Magoffin claimed his fourth wicket of the innings when he bowled Liam Plunkett for five just after the restart.
It was then that Ballance, who surely deserves to bat higher than six, and the admirable Sidebottom displayed their heartening resolution.