HARTLEPOOL will be mightily relieved with their first win in the league since early June, when they defeated Norton at Park Drive, by a massive 139 runs.

The win has eased their relegation fears; they are certainly not out of it, but now enjoy a 26-point cushion over Guisborough, who are second bottom.

Pools decided to bat first after winning the toss and piled up the runs, thanks to a fine century from opener Neil Coverdale. His 111 not out came off 167 balls with 11 fours to steer his team to 217-4 and with Harsha Vithana scoring 80 off 80 balls, they set the visitors a daunting total.

It was a target that was not going to be reached, with Doug Mulholland taking 3-25 and Oliver Mole 3-13, tearing into the Norton batting and they were all out for just 78, for the home side to claim 25 crucial points.

Guisborough lost at home to rampant Marton, who now move into third position, in a low scoring game at Rectory Lane.

Marton were asked to bat first and made just 101, with Chris Nicholls taking three of the top four batsmen (3-38), then Shanuka Dissanayake with (3-14), cracked out the middle order and Neil Russell cleaned up the tail with (3-40).

However, in-form opening bowler Matthew Connelly took 5-16, to rip out the Priorymen’s top order, with only Russell resisting with 34, the highest score in the match.

Skipper Alex Wardell mopped up the tail, with 3-15, for his side to win the game by 43 runs.

Darlington will be the happier of the two teams, when they drew at Marske and have the same points cushion now as Seaton Carew enjoy over Guisborough.

The home side set a target of 216-6, thanks to skipper Lee Hodgson scoring 63, Saeed Bin Nasir 54 (101 partnership) and Lewis Harper 32, with two wickets apiece for Liam Coates and Muhammed Saad.

In reply, Darlington’s Nathan Wright made 32 and Liam Coates 40, while Sam Berry took an excellent 6-26 to nearly win the game, but the last two batsmen held on for the draw, finishing with 132-9.

With Guisborough losing, Seaton Carew’s loss at home to leaders Great Ayton still leaves them with a 35-point safety cushion.

They were asked to bat first and made 152 all out, thanks to Usman Arshad scoring 44. Seven other Seaton batsmen got into double figures, but could not push on, with Pitigala Jeewantha keeping them in check with 4-32 and there were two wickets each for Stephen Pennock, Thomas Leng and Chris Batchelor.

Man of the match Jeewantha held it all together with the bat, scoring 71 not out, off 93 balls, including four fours and two sixes when wickets were tumbling all around him.

Harry Shelton (28), dug in and put on 74 with the professional, despite David Storey’s terrific bowling effort, returning 7-57, to give Ayton the 20 points and stretch their lead at the top to 25 points.

Barnard Castle lost ground in the title race when they drew at home to Middlesbrough, but they should have won and the visitors nearly did as the game reached a dramatic finale.

Boro batted first and totaled 209-7, with Sam Gaudie (73), James Lowe (39) and Steven Reeves (33), contributing well. James Finch, Richard Watson and Jack Robinson, each took two wickets apiece on the bowling front.

Barney were coasting through Simon Tennant (43), James Quinn (30), Richard Borrowdale’s hard hitting 60 and skipper James Finch making 42no, until Steven Reeves (3-75) and Ahsan Shrindal (3-47), started taking wickets. Panic set in and they fell three runs short of victory, on 207-9.

Richmondshire and Stokesley were left frustrated and both lost ground in the title race, as their game at Hugill Road fell victim to the recent bad weather.