GREAT AYTON stretched their lead at the top of the Darlington Building Society NYSD ECB Premier League, with a comfortable 92 run win at Hartlepool. The leaders batted first and made a good score of 217-3 declared off 45 overs, thanks to a fine 66 from opener Chris Batchelor, 69 from Chris Allinson and 46 not out, from professional Pitigala Jeewantha, off just 33 balls, which included five fours and two sixes.

Jeewantha then tore apart the Pools batting taking a brilliant 7-20 off 14 overs, to reduce the home side to 125 all out, with only skipper Doug Mulholland resisting with a hard hitting 52 not out, including nine fours.

Barnard Castle who were second before start of play, slipped up at home to Marske. They were asked to bat first by the Seasiders and made a healthy 211-8, with James Quinn making a fine 69 and skipper James Finch chipped in with 47. On the bowling front, Sam Berry took 3-67, off 11 overs.

In reply, Marske made the runs required thanks to an unbeaten century from Saeed Bin Nasir, who hit nine sixes and five fours, off 117 balls. Skipper Lee Hodgson made a quick-fire half century (64), from just 37 balls, including nine fours and four sixes, putting on 71 for the second wicket. Finch with the ball made life difficult, taking 4-49, but the visitors squeezed home by two wickets.

Richmondshire moved into third place, with a six wicket home win over neighbours Darlington. They decided to ask the visitors to bat first and thanks to Sam Wood (3-36) and Craig Swainston (3-32), they struggled early on. Liam Coates (32) and skipper Paul Freary (32) briefly kept the home attack at bay, but Craig Marshall cleaned the tail up, with 3-14, in a total of just 133. Skipper Gary Pratt led the way with the bat, with a good knock of 89 not out, off 111 balls, to see his side home, off 34.5 overs.

Marton remain fifth, with a handsome 198 run win, at home to bottom club Norton. There were centuries for both Jonathan Spillane, his third of the season (112 not out) and skipper Alex Wardell (100 not out), to amass 237-0 declared off 45 overs.

Marton’s opening bowler Matthew Connelly, then ripped into the Norton batting line-up, taking a tremendous 6-12 off eight overs. This led to the visitors making only 39 in total and surely condemns them to Division One, as they are 93 points from safety.

At the bottom, Seaton Carew had another win, this time at home to Middlesbrough by 148 runs. They leap-frog over rivals Hartlepool and are now 29 points clear of relegation. Skipper Paul Braithwaite led the way, with a fine century (105 off 111 balls) and Alan Tebbett made 47, before David Braithwaite hammered 53 runs off 50 balls, to set total of 238-6.

In reply, Boro were no match for professional Usman Arshad, who took a brilliant 7-16 off 11 overs, to win the game, despite Paul Johnston making 30 early on and were all out for just 90.

Guisborough are 25 points from safety as they lost at home to Stokesley, by just 23 runs. The visitors made 167-9, thanks to Jonny Weighell scoring 66 and professional Aubrey Swanepoel made 56, before the tail collapsed, with Stu Mackay taking 4-32 and Shanuka Dissanayake 3-41. The Priorymen were in all sorts of trouble at 8-3, with Richard Chandler removing both Dissanayake and Owen Tennant cheaply, with Sam Stephens bowling Tyrone Webster first ball.

Graham Murray then steadied the ship with a fine 83 off 100 balls, but no-one could stay with him and they were all out for 144, with Swanepoel the chief destroyer, taking 7-40.