The championship merry-go-round produced more twists and turns on a day when the weather cooled down but the Darlington Building Society North Yorkshire and South Durham ECB Premier League title race got hotter.
Marton grabbed back the lead as Richmondshire were beaten in a sensational finish by Redcar who, having won just once previously all season, turned the form book upside down.
As a result, the Dalesmen had their 14 point advantage wiped out and are now trailing by a single point with Darlington, who had the easiest of victories against strugglers Normanby Hall, moving up to share second place with them.
Redcar’s success was as dramatic as any in a summer which has now seen the leadership change hands no less than nine times. For Marton it’s the third time they’ve been the table-toppers.
But Richmond came close not only to saving their game but to winning it with a last wicket partnership which added 35 runs between veteran stumper Kevin Forbes (22 not out) and Shawn Charlton, who made three.
They came together on 82 for nine chasing 130 to win and just failed by 13 runs with nine balls still remaining.
It proved the end of the worst week of the season for the Dalesmen who had lost their chance of a second successive appearance in the Kerridge Cup Final with a mid-week defeat at Marton to be followed by only their second league defeat in two seasons.
Richmond must have expected victory almost a formality when they restricted their hosts to 129 for nine with Craig Marshall (4-34) and Charlton (3-26) the form duo.
But their batsmen were all at sea against the wily Mohammad Zahid (5-22) and Muhammad Saad (4-36), crashing to 60 for five and subsequently to 82 for nine.
Even the in-form Gary Pratt, needing just 33 runs to become the first and the fastest to reach the 1,000 league runs milestone, could only manage four!
Marton’s return to the summit followed an impressive six-wicket success at Sedgefield where the hosts were restricted to 137 for nine by Upul Indrasiri (3-21), Luke Gettings (2-21) and Neil Russell (2-29).
The visitors had no difficulty collecting runs with Indrasiri (40) and Lee Hodgson (36) again on song.
Darlington’s win over second bottom Normanby was even more comfortable, bowling out their nomadic visitors for just 116 and then, with a partnership worth 90 between Liam Coates (67) and Matty Brown (29no), racing quickly beyond the line.
Dan Hodgson, playing against one of his former clubs, hit 48 but faced 119 balls in two-and-a-half hours at the crease. The usual wicket taking trio of Doug Mulholland (4-35), Peter Armstrong (2-20) and Jon Barnes (2-28) were back in form.
Great Ayton moved 14 points closer to the top and made fourth place more secure when they enjoyed another impressive win, their fourth in five.
They ran down 215 to win by five wickets at Barnard Castle with the irrepressible Steve Pennock hitting an unbeaten 85 from just 47 balls to share a 100-run partnership with new skipper Jon Grainge (23 not out). Pennock smashed 12 fours and five sixes in another swashbuckling innings.
But Barney had a powerful batting day too, with Aamer Sajjad making an unbeaten 115 – his fourth century – and sharing a stand of 136 with Ben Usher (47) while facing 141 balls and hitting 18 boundaries.
A second century for Adil Ditta at Saltburn helped Middlesbrough to an eight wicket win on a perfect pitch which yielded 480 runs.
Ditta was unbeaten on 135 with 20 fours from 148 balls and shared a 208-run partnership with James Lowe (76). Saltburn’s trio of Umesh Karunaratne (84 not out), Paul Allen (55) and Joe Kennedy (48) hit 20 boundaries between them.
Guisborough took back fifth place among the championship challengers by beating fellow fringe rivals Hartlepool by two wickets with three balls to spare.
Phil Holdsworth (75 not out) and Stu Lobb (51) were the match winners despite a target of 221 set by Pool thanks to the Symington’s, Mark (80) and Craig (62).
Bottom club Thornaby were thwarted of their first win after eight defeats when Stokesley tail-enders Simon Caukwell and Clive Dowson defended for 18 overs to gain a draw after their skipper, Andrew Weighell, produced career best bowling figures of 5-32. Bathiya Perera (6-20) and Omar Shahid (49 from 31 balls) were the Thornaby stars. The extra draw points the hosts gained helped reduce the relegation safety margin they need to overcome by ten points to 42.
Thornaby made 156 for eight and Stokesley reached 106 for nine.