Sussex's Championship match with Hampshire remained delicately poised at Hove today.

Resuming on day three with a lead of 73, Sussex added another 36 runs in a tense first hour but they did lose the wicket of Murray Goodwin.

Hampshire opened the attack with Billy Taylor and Chris Tremlett and it was Taylor who made the breakthrough in the seventh over of the day when Goodwin, who had added ten runs to his overnight 18, shouldered arms and lost his off stump.

There was still plenty of encouragement for the seamers who gave both Ian Ward and skipper Chris Adams a torrid time.

Ward, on 62, had a let-off when Kevin Pietersen got his fingertips to a thick edge at second slip but couldn't cling on to what was a difficult chance.

The left-hander finally escaped the shackles to punch Tremlett off the back foot to the cover boundary, but Tremlett gave Adams considerable problems, beating him several times outside off stump.

Adams finally got off the mark with a scrambled single to mid-wicket as Sussex reached 137-3 in the 54th over.

Sussex's Director of cricket Peter Moores summed up Sussex's disappointing title defence last year succinctly when he said that the side did not know whether to strut or scrap. They have since decided they are a team of scrappers and those qualities were needed during an absorbing afternoon session yesterday to stop Hampshire taking control.

Wicketkeepr Nic Pothas resisted for 49 overs to make 84 after coming in at 89-4 and helped Warne put on 51 in just ten overs to ease their side past Sussex's 252 with four wickets in hand.

Any sort of lead was always going to be important so it's to Sussex's credit that they restricted the deficit to manageable proportions after taking three wickets in as many overs.

Warne was just starting to drive the bowlers to distraction. He smacked his first ball from Mushtaq Ahmed over mid-wicket for six and added five more boundaries as he raced to 34 off just 26 balls.

Perhaps it was over-confidence, but when Warne tried to deposit Robin Marin-Jenkins' length ball into the pavilion he lost his middle and off stumps instead. Sussex were back in business.

Pothas is a useful competitor coming in at No. 6. He averaged just under 40 last season and although he played well within himself he ruthlessly punished anything short or wide.

But with only the tail for company, he decided to open his shoulders and, aiming to hit Mushtaq Ahmed over mid-wicket, only succeeded in getting a top edge and Goodwin took a well-judged catch in the swirling wind.

Martin-Jenkins produced a rare yorker to remove Chris Tremlett second ball and Mushtaq had his second wicket when Montgomerie snapped up a bat-pad catch at the third attempt, but only after Billy Taylor had helped Shaun Udal add 25 for the last wicket.

Of course, no one wears their heart on their Sussex sleeve more than James Kirtley and he did his utmost to keep Sussex in contention.

Kirtley took two key wickets in three balls during his first spell, bowling Simon Katich via an inside edge off a front-foot drive before claiming the even bigger scalp of Kevin Pietersen in the same over.

Pietersen took a liking to the Sussex attack during his Nottinghamshire days, In four innings in Sussex's Championship winning campaign two years ago he scored 387 runs including two big hundreds.

Yesterday he lasted just two balls, trapped in front when he shuffled in front of a straight full toss. Jason Lewry had made the breakthrough in the sixth over of the day when Jimmy Adams was caught behind and John Crawley squandered a promising start when he was fifth out at 130, caught behind off a poorly executed cut shot.

At that point Sussex were on top, but Pothas and Sean Ervine wrested back the initiative either side of lunch in a stand of 71 in 22 overs.

Back came Kirtley from the Cromwell Road end and he duly broke through in the fourth over of his spell when he got just enough seam movement to find the edge of Ervine's bat.

Kirtley finished with 4-54 from 24 overs, further evidence that Sussex's spearhead is back to his best. It was only his second four-wicket haul in an innings since July 2003 but there are sure to be plenty more as the season unfolds.

lJohn Snow is stepping down after six years as Sussex's vice-chairman. He will be replaced by Richard Barrow, a committee member for 12 years.