DURHAM must have done something to upset umpire Roy Palmer, whose slowly rising finger pointed them towards their first totesport League defeat of the season at The Oval yesterday.

In a match reduced to 38 overs-a-side following a delayed start because of rain, Surrey recovered from 26 for four to make 219 for seven and Durham replied with 176.

They were all out with 3.5 overs unused, sacrificing late wickets out of desperation. They are still top of division two, but have played more games than everyone else.

It is difficult to take seriously a 62-year-old umpire who dyes his hair blond, especially when he gives the sort of decision which saw off Jon Lewis.

The former captain was the middle of three lbw victims in six balls for seamer Tim Murtagh as Durham slipped to ten for three.

Palmer later also gave out Gareth Breese lbw and Gordon Muchall stumped, although neither seemed to like the decision.

Nathan Astle was falling over to the off side when he was first to go, and Paul Collingwood was only half forward when he departed second ball. But Lewis looked to have been struck too high to be adjudged lbw, and it was all the more galling after Palmer had remained statuesque in response to all Durham's appeals.

They had a chance of victory while Nicky Peng and skipper Dale Benkenstein were repairing the early damage in a fourth wicket stand of 95.

Peng made his third successive half-century in this competition, but after both fell in quick succession to leg-spinner Ian Salisbury only Phil Mustard threatened to worry Surrey.

He drove Salisbury for a straight six, but with the pressure on him to maintain the challenge he was bowled for 29 going for a big hit off medium pacer James Benning.

Durham took up where they left off against Kent on Sunday, but whereas their performance in the final seven overs won the game at Tunbridge Wells their efforts in the first seven yesterday were not enough.

On 26 for four Surrey were looking as rocky as when they were all out for 86 at Riverside last month. On both occasions acting captain Mark Ramprakash was caught behind off Liam Plunkett for a duck.

The other three early casualties were all guilty of careless driving, and at that stage it was possible to condemn Surrey's gung-ho attitude to this competition as an insult to the fans who had forsaken a Bank Holiday visit to Ikea.

It might also have been asked what is the point of the £22m redevelopment of this famous ground if it is to stage such brief cameos as Ali Brown's?

Coming in at 15 for three he was off the mark with a lofted on-drive for three then hit Plunkett for two fours before being bowled through a reckless slog.

The gas holder still presides over The Oval, the London Eye is visible, but the skyline at the Vauxhall End has been transformed by an arch over the new stand.

It might not rival the Wembley arch, in fact it looks more like a flyover, but there are apparently plans to grow vines along it, so the planners must have grape expectations.

The new construction is to be known as the OCS Stand. It stands for One Complete Solution, a firm offering a range of services such as cleaning, catering, security and transport. Whether they have a solution to Surrey's one-day indifference seems unlikely, although injuries to five players and the late arrival of Harbhajan Singh haven't helped.

The Indian spinner flew in yesterday, having had to wait longer than expected to be cleared of throwing accusations.

This was the last match at The Oval before the work is completed - Surrey are going to play at Whitgift School in the meantime - and the historic occasion was marked by a record stand for Surrey against Durham in the one-day league.

The previous best of 123, set by David Ward and Nadeem Shahid at Stockton in 1996, was beaten by fifth wicket pair Benning and Rikki Clarke.

Despite the shaky foundations, they put on their first 50 in nine overs, helped by some fairly wayward bowling.

There were 20 wides and, despite again taking two early wickets, Plunkett struggled with his line and bowled five of them in his opening five-over spell, one of which evaded the diving Mustard to go for four.

Neil Killeen bowled a tight spell of two for 19 in six overs, but when Collingwood replaced him he was pulled for six by Benning.

After his match-turning performance with the ball at Tunbridge Wells, Nathan Astle was on earlier this time, at 96 for four after 19 overs.

But he had predicted that the slower the pitch the more effective he would be in one-day cricket and this was not the surface for him, four overs costing 33 runs.

Ashley Noffke was the bowler most likely to exploit the pace and bounce, but he wasn't helped by a fierce straight drive from Clarke hitting him on the right shin and was left with two of his eight-over allocation unused.

This was because Breese removed both the fifth wicket pair after they had put on 129 and was left on, which proved costly as he conceded 15 in the penultimate over.

Killeen went for 16 in two either side of that, with Murtagh making an unbeaten 31 off 21 balls to inflate the total beyond expectations.

Murtagh also removed Durham's top three at Riverside last month, when he had three for 12 in nine overs, and yesterday's repeat came as he conceded only nine runs in his opening six-over spell.

Injuries meant Surrey had little other bowling of note, other than Salisbury. When Benning's medium pace was called on at 90 for three after 20 overs Benkenstein drove him for a huge six wide of long-on.

Peng reached his 50 off 57 balls in the same over and things were looking good, only for Salisbury to prove the value of leg spin. He conceded 18 runs in his first three overs but had Benkenstein caught at the wicket for 44 attempting to cut then bowled Peng with a googly.

In his next over he had Muchall stumped, although the batsman could scarcely believe Palmer's decision. As the umpire was 25 yards away wearing dark glasses it would be surprising if he had a clear view of the line.

Breese went in the next over - again it looked high - and once Mustard departed Durham had no chance.

Read more about Durham here.