EXCITEMENT at both ends of the Darlington Building Society NYSD ECB Premier League table, was evident, as clubs vied for points in the title and relegation arenas. Richmondshire were the big movers at the top, reducing Great Ayton’s lead, to just 11 points, when they won at Leven Park and at the other end, there were vital wins for both Seaton Carew and Guisborough.

With eight games remaining, it’s all to play for and Richmondshire could not ask for anymore from their bowling attack at present. Craig Marshall removed the top order, claiming 4-36, then Craig Swainston bowled an excellent spell of 5-23, to reduce the home side to 93 all out, off 34 overs, after winning an important toss.

Ayton had a bright start when bowling, sending back Gary Pratt and Andrew Fleming, without scoring, but Mike Layfield with a half century, (53 not out off 87 balls, with five fours and a six), and Alston Bobb with 32, put on 57 together, to open up the title race.

At the other end of the table, Seaton Carew won for the third time in a row, defeating Darlington by just four runs, on their own patch and at the same time dragging them into the relegation fight. Seaton only scored 119 all out, with Skipper Paul Braithwaite top scoring with 30 and David Braithwaite making an all-important 29. Dale Marshall (3-36) and Connor Whitelock with an excellent (5-30), helped keep the visitors in check.

Seaton’s Jack Turnbull then took 4-27, reducing the home side to 37-3 and then skipper Braithwaite and David Storey struck twice to have the home side reeling on 87-9, but Whitelock with the bat made 32 not out, and he put on 26 runs, for the last wicket with Andrew Sturgeon (9), but they fell agonisingly four runs short, on 113 all out, when Sturgeon became Turnbull’s fourth victim.

Guisborough as expected, won at Norton and collected only their second win of the season and a valuable 20 points, at the same time. They are now just six points from safety, after Neil Russel took a brilliant 7-17, to bowl the home side out for just 54 runs. Opener Martin Hood scored 28 not out, to win by nine wickets.

Hartlepool are in meltdown with another loss, this time at Stokesley, who move into third position. Pools batted first and made just 113-7, with skipper Doug Mulholland again their top scorer with 25, with Sam Stevens (3-26) and skipper Andrew Weighell (3-23), both taking three wickets. Stokesley eased to victory by seven wickets, with both openers Weighell and Robert Foreman each scoring 28 runs apiece.

Marton are up to fourth, after defeating Barnard Castle at home by 128 runs. Jonathan Spillane hit his second century against the champions this season and his fourth of the season, with a blistering knock of 127 off 127 balls, including fifteen fours and two sixes. Skipper Alex Wardell with 37, helped them put on an opening stand of 118, with Aamer Sajjad contributing (42), in a total of 230-5.

When Barney batted, they were in bother at 2-2, as Matthew Connolly removed Ben Usher and James Quinn without scoring. Simon Tennant hung around for 32, but Omar Shahid took 3-32 to reduce them to 102 all out, with two wickets apiece, for both Wardell and Muhammed Zahid.

Middlesbrough won the mid-table clash with Marske at Acklam Park. They bowled Marske out for 145, with James Lowe taking 3-9 and there were two wickets apiece, for Ahsan Shrindal and Harry Williams. Lee Hodgson made 32 and Johnathon Pickard 31, for the Seasiders, but Paul Johnston then smashed 75 off just 62 balls, including five fours and two sixes, for Boro. His opening partner Sam Gaudie, scored 52 and they put on 135 for the first wicket, for an easy eight wicket win.