Sussex took two crucial wickets in the final hour of the second day to strengthen their position in the crucial Specsavers County Championship Division Two match against Middlesex at Hove.
Trailing by 234, Middlesex had reached 105 for 2 when they lost Dawid Malan (19) and Paul Stirling for a second-ball duck in successive overs. Their hopes of setting Sussex a testing target on a good pitch now largely rest with opener Sam Robson who reached a 108-ball half-century and was 61 not out at stumps with his side 145 for 4, still 89 behind.
Robson and Nick Gubbins had rebuilt after Steve Eskinazi was bowled by Ollie Robinson off the third ball of the innings, adding 68 either side of tea. But Jared Warner, the Yorkshire seamer who has joined Sussex on loan for the rest of the season, had Gubbins (28) well taken at second slip by Harry Finch before Sussex struck twice in the space of six balls.
Dawid Malan (28) played on to give Sussex debutant Elliott Hooper, a 23-year-old left-arm spinner from Hastings making his first-class debut, a memorable first wicket. Robinson then pegged back Paul Stirling’s off stump for a second-ball duck to take his 50th Championship scalp and complete his second ten-wicket haul of the season against Middlesex.
Hooper said afterwards: "I was told on Saturday I was going to be playing and it’s just very special as a Sussex boy who came through the academy system to be out there playing for Sussex - that really means a lot to me.
"Getting a player like Dawid Malan for my first wicket was a great moment and it helped get us back in control a bit. There’s a lot of cricket to be played but we’re in a good position."
Earlier, Will Beer made 77 as Sussex’s last three wickets put on 151 to take them to 309.
Middlesex had fought back during the first hour as Sussex, who had resumed on 128 for 3, lost four wickets for 23 – three of them to Toby Roland-Jones who now has 24 victims in his last five Championship innings after finishing with 5 for 70.
The seamer picked up Luke Wells (62) and Alex Carey (56) after they shared 125 for the fourth wicket. Wells clipped to mid-wicket and Carey was taken at slip driving loosely before David Wiese was caught behind for a duck off a ball which rose sharply to give Roland-Jones his third wicket in four overs.
Tim Murtagh picked up Ben Brown (3) caught behind off a top-edged slash but from 151 for 7, Robinson and Beer counter-attacked superbly.
Robinson contributed 37 to an eighth-wicket stand of 88 after being caught on six off a Roland-Jones no ball while Hooper scored 20 as 41 were added for the ninth wicket. To add to Middlesex’s frustrations, Steve Finn had to go off for treatment after being hit on the face fielding a drive by Beer, who was last out after hitting 13 fours and a six from 110 balls faced.
Robinson, who took 8 for 34 in the first innings, then struck with his third ball when Steve Eskinazi was bowled through the gate for four. Robson and Gubbins rebuilt before Sussex landed those late blows.