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Three way title fight hotting up

The fight to be 2013 Darlington Building Society North Yorkshire and South Durham ECB Premier League champions is hotting up with just fifteen points separating the top three clubs as the season reaches its half way point.

But for only the fourth time in those first 13 rounds the leaders remained unchanged with Darlington enjoying one of their finest victories in disposing of Guisborough to stay ahead of Richmondshire and Marton, both of whom also showed their dominance with crushing wins.

And Great Ayton, by beating bottom club Thornaby, leapfrogged Guisborough into fourth place.

The Quakers record of nine wins looks especially impressive after they produced another solid match-of-the-day performance against the Priory club. The hosts became the latest victims of the devastating bowling trio of Peter Armstrong (4-48), Jonathon Barnes (2-52) and Doug Mulholland (2-29) who between them shared all but four of the 50 overs.

Guisborough were left on 161 for eight with Phil Holdsworth (30) their top scorer, but it was never going to be enough once Matty Brown (52 not out) and Ben Wicling (41 not out) got together.

Their unbeaten stand worth 92 saw them over the line with seven wickets intact. Brown hit eight fours in his 83 balls at the crease and Wicling, with six boundaries, faced 16 fewer balls than his partner.

Richmondshire’s record as the season’s fastest scoring team left Stokesley chasing leather as 152 were hit from 30 overs with an unbeaten 85 taking Gary Pratt beyond 700 as the league’s leading run maker.

He needed just 78 balls with 12 fours to enjoy a century opening stand with James Clarkson (48). Stokesley struggled against Yorkshire youngster Lewis Stabler (4-53) and the more recently impressive Craig Marshall (4-31), who bowled exactly half of the overs between them.

They managed 151 for nine with George Robinson (37 not out) and Will Brown (31) sharing a sixth wicket stand of 54 after the side had slumped to 52 for five.

Stokesley haven’t won in nine games following victories in three of their first four.

Marton, by contrast, won for the third time in their last five, but it was a nail biting finish at Redcar who batted stubbornly for just 92 runs and were beaten in the last three overs.

Mohammed Zahid produced a largely one-man show with six wickets and a top score of 27 for the Seasiders while their visitors had half a dozen players with star quality. Lee Hodgson (32 and 2-9), Upul Indrasiri (25 and 3-31), Ryan Gibson (28), Whally Ghauri (27), Neil Russell (2-24) and Tom Reid (2-14) all chipped in. Zahid’s six wickets, despite Marton posting 152 for nine, cost him just 35 runs.

A half century and three wickets from 17 overs costing just 45 runs by Marc Symington inspired Hartlepool to a narrow victory over Middlesbrough and saw them consolidate their place in the top six.

Pool totalled 149 for seven with the home ‘pro’ sharing a 65-run partnership with Neil Coverdale (33). Boro, who have only won twice all season, finished ten runs short on 139 after Jonathan Rickard (4-36) and Callum Prosser (3-33) shared the wickets with Symington.

Saltburn continue to head upwards and after taking 16 points from a draw with Barnard Castle are now well away from danger in their first season back in the senior division.

A century for Umesh Karunaratne and 92 from Chris Hooker in a dazzling partnership of 180 took the Seasiders to 252 for nine after losing their first two wickets for just 16 runs.

Umesh faced 126 balls to Hooker’s 121 and between them they rattled the boundary boards 20 times. James Finch (5-71 and 81 not out) was Barney’s star performer although Faizal Khan (4-46) impressed too.

Sedgefield took a major step away from the relegation zone when they defeated one of their rivals, Normanby Hall, by an impressive margin of seven wickets. Without both their ‘pros,’ Normanby sank to 103 for eight after failing to score in 22 of their 50 overs against Martin Cull (2-21), Nisal Randika (2-26) and Steve Naylor (2-32).

The hosts, after three successive defeats, took extra care in their reply but got over the winning line in the 39th with Naylor’s unbeaten 37 the key.

There was no joy on Saturday for struggling Thornaby who lost to championship chasing Great Ayton despite fighting back to take five wickets after being bowled out for 108. Lewis Harper (7-41) produced his season best figures and Steve Pennock (39) was top scorer.

Despite all their woes Normanby Hall found the ability to defeat relegation rivals Thornaby in Sunday’s match at Marske, a decent all-round batting performance headlined by Shahid Khan’s half century lifting them to a challenging 199 for nine, and this despite six wickets from Dale Metcalfe.

Bathiya Perera (52) and Jonny Spillane (33 from 30 balls) looked like making it a happy Sunday for Thornaby until Dale Marshall (6-65) took two stunning catches off his own bowling which changed the game, Hall going on to dismiss their rivals for 168 and leave them 36 points adrift of safety.

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