Luck with the weather and some dynamic bowling combined to stretch Marton’s lead as table toppers from one to 12 points on a day when Guisborough moved ominously into second place and newly-promoted Redcar continued to struggle as they try to adapt to the top division in the North Yorkshire and South Durham Premier League.
A hailstorm, which left the Great Ayton ground momentarily resembling a scene from a Christmas card, washed out Darlington’s challenge to the leaders – their game was abandoned after just 17 balls – and Marton took full advantage as they exploited another bad day at the office for Barnard Castle.
A batting slump, not unlike the one they suffered on the season’s opening day, saw them all out for just 81 runs, their hosts never letting them off the hook once they lost their first five wickets cheaply.
Luke Gettings (5-36) and Neil Russell (3-14) showed lots of accurate pace and it was left to Ben Usher coming to the crease at 25 for four, to keep the tail wagging to finish unbeaten on 34.
After losing two early wickets themselves, Marton turned the pressure back on to Barney and with an unbeaten stand between fast scoring Whalid Ghauri (45 from 45 balls with eight fours) and Lee Hodgson (27 from 41 balls) they won handsomely in 16 overs by eight wickets.
Guisborough’s move from fourth to second place came with their third win in five games following a nail biting finish with Sedgefield.
Just six balls were left when Stuart Lobb (4-37) had his former captain, Martin Cull, and top scorer David Cross (30) out in the same over for his new team to win by a margin of 107 runs.
In a rain shortened game Guisborough smashed an impressive 202 for four from 35 overs with Phil Holdsworth (59), Graham Murray (49) and Ranil Dhammika (46 not out) the main contributors.
The host’s Sri Lankan professional then grabbed four wickets for just 16 runs in nine overs with Stu Mackay (2-8 in five) giving support to match winner Lobb.
Sedgefield never recovered from losing their top five batters for 58 runs, and despite a cameo innings by Cross, who made his 30 runs from 35 balls and hit four of six boundaries in one over, they were bowled out for just 95.
Stokesley stayed in third place after a stirling performance against Saltburn who stretched them to the limit after making 198 for seven in a game reduced to 79 overs.
Umesh Karunaratne (77 not out) and Chris Hooker (66) shared a stand of 126 with the Sri Lankan hitting six fours and two sixes and his partner smashing four sixes in nine boundaries.
Stokesley, for whom Jonny Weighell hit a magnificent century (101 from 101 balls with 13 fours and two sixes) got within 22 runs of their visitors with six wickets remaining when their overs ran out.
They had been allocated five fewer than Saltburn and were unfortunate that the 176 for four scored was three runs short of an additional two draw points.
James Beaumont (33) was caught on the boundary from the last ball of the game aiming for the extra bonus.
Saltburn did enough to show they should survive the rigours of a first season back in the premier division – they already have 45 points and fresh air beneath them – but it’s not looking at all good for Redcar after losing their fourth of the five games played.
They were beaten by seven wickets at home to Hartlepool after only their ‘pro’, Muhammad Saad (71 not out) impressed again.
In a game reduced to 41 overs the Seasiders could manage just 114 for eight which Pool had no problems reaching.
The Symingtons, Marc (3-27 from 14 overs) and Craig (34 not out in a partnership of 46) dominated the proceedings.
Richmondshire had to settle for a draw with a maximum 17 points when they couldn’t winkle out the final two Thornaby batsmen in a game of over 500 runs.
The home side made one of their highest ever scores – 319 for four – and declared after 44 overs with Shani Dissanayake in superb form as he rattled up a classic 141 runs, sharing a partnership of 200 with Gary Pratt (76).
Thornaby batted out 56 overs on 202 for nine after Jonny Spillane hit his first century for two seasons. Middlesbrough (230 for seven) and Normanby Hall (153 for six) drew another shortened game which featured a season’s first century for Paul Johnston.
The Hussain brothers, Israr (32) and Nasar (24), featured for Normanby with a fifth wicket recovery.