Matt Mason praised the performances of youngsters Ed Barnard and Brett D'Oliveira with the ball as Worcestershire fought back on day one of the Specsavers County Championship clash with Leicestershire at New Road.

Barnard picked up a wicket in each of his three spells and troubled all the batsman – including century-maker Neil Dexter – as he finished with 3-49 from 16 overs.

His victimes were openers Paul Horton and Angus Robson plus, with the second new ball, Clint McKay.

D'Oliveira showed great control with his leg spin and ended with 2-53 from 23 overs as Leicestershire, who had been 203-3 at tea, lost four wickets in the final session and closed on 299-7 from 96 overs.

Bowling coach Mason said: "I think that is probably Ed's best Championship day this season. He swung the ball, he looked dangerous, he bowled a good line and length.

"For a young bowler he looked terrific and probably our most impresive bowler on the day so really good for him.

"He has put on a little bit of pace. he is still learning plenty as well which is great and he is very open to that.

"I think every game he plays he is learning plenty. "What he has got for a young bowler, is a great natural ability to hit a good line and length.

"He is skilful and sometimes we have to get him to rein it in a bit because he likes to try everything.

"But he is learning very quickly that in Championship cricket, success comes from being patient and he showed that today.

"You forget that he also bats. He is a terrific all-round cricketer and he is good in the field. He is another exciting talent we've got here.

"He is only going to get better, get stronger, possibly a bit quicker which is exciting going forward."

D'Oliveira sent back Leicestershire skipper Mark Cosgrove and Rob Taylor.

Mason said: "It was terrific from Brett. What was terrific was his control. For a young leg spinner, that can be hard sometimes in Championship cricket on a wicket that wasn't giving him as huge amount of turn.

"To have that control and bowl as well as he did was great and allowed the guys to work at the other end. It was a terrific spell from Dolly."

Mason admitted the day ended with honours even after Dexter completed back to back hundreds before falling to vice-captain Joe Leach.

He said: "I'm probably going to say it was an even day. We were a little disappointed the first two sessions. We just couldn't seen to make any inroads on that wicket.

"It was hard work for them to be fair. It was quite a flat, docile pitch in the end. We thought it might have done a little bit more in it than it did.

"But in that last session they really stuck to their task and got some rewards and we probably ended up with an even day."

Worcestershire skipper Daryl Mitchell delayed taking the second new ball until the 92nd over.

Mason explained: "The guys had it reverse swinging a little bit, the old ball was just tailing in, and that can be quite a dangerous tactic.

"Also if you can hold off with that new ball, perhaps you can start the following day with a slightly newer ball as well and the wicket might do a little bit more."

In terms of Worcestershire's approach to day two, Mason said: "We want to get out there batting. The plan is to knock them over as quick as we can and then hopefully just bat the once and bat really big because I think that pitch will deteriorate as the game goes on."