With just four games to go, the relegation battle has taken a twist.

Bishop Auckland had the best result of the group involved in the scrap, with a winning draw at home to Marton, collecting 15 points. They are now level on points with Marske who are bottom.

Marton had to hang on for the draw at Kingsway, as Bishops set them a good score.

They made 228 all out, after being put in to bat. Skipper Scott Oldfield led the way with 75 off 92 balls, which included 12 fours and a six, alongside Nimesh Vimukthi who cracked 55 off 61 balls, which included four fours and four sixes. Skipper Alex Wardell returned 4-49 and Muhammed Zahid claimed 4-70.

Marton started brightly with Luke De Vlieg scoring 41 and Chris Allinson 40, before they collapsed through Chris Sawyer’s excellent spell of 5-53, to put them in charge. However, Rameez Nawaz with 35 not out saved the day for Marton, as they clung on for the draw scoring 190-9 in reply and claim 11 points for themselves.

Hartlepool have a 25-point cushion over Bishops, who they play at home next Saturday. Although Pools put 50 on for the first wicket, Darlington’s Peter Greenwell produced a devastating spell of bowling, claiming 6-52 to reduce them to 104-7. They eventually made 134 all out from 41.4 overs.

Darlington then had Liam Coates to thank, as he made 40 not out, helping his side to 135-6, which is likely to make them safe for another year.

Marske lost by 69 runs at home to Richmondshire, with the Dalesmen scoring a healthy 209-9, with 88 from Matthew McKiernan and 40 from Matthew Cowling, as they put on 71 for the fifth wicket. Sam Berry was the pick of the bowling, claiming 4-47 off 14 overs.

Marske lost early wickets, before Lee Hodgson steadied the ship with 32 runs, but visiting skipper Gary Pratt was in superb form with the ball, taking 5-22 to secure a win and 25 crucial points.

Barnard Castle are the new leaders, following a low scoring win at Thornaby.

They made 155-7 with Hashan Dumindu top scoring on 35, as Luke Metcalfe took 4-39 with the ball. In reply, the home side were all out for 84, as Josh Bousfield with 3-12 and Alasdair Appleby with an impressive 4-6, bowled them to victory and 25 important points.

Great Ayton slipped to second, after making 234-9 against Middlesbrough, thanks to opener Chris Batchelor who made 101 from 128 balls, which included 14 fours and a six.

Boro in reply, batted for the draw, with Mark Gleeson adding 34 and Steven Reeves a useful 65 to made 196-7, despite Tomas Leng taking 4-34.

Stokesley are still fourth with a slim chance of the title, as they amassed 227-5 at Seaton Carew, mainly thanks to 35 from skipper Andrew Weighell, 58 from James Weighell, 71 from Shrikant Wagh and 41 not out from Robert Foreman.

Seaton replied with 145 all out, as opener David Seymour contributed 55 and skipper Paul Braithwaite 45, but professional Shrikant Wagh stole the show with 5-34, off his 15 overs.