It was a case of deal or no deal for Dawdon as their mighty head to head with league leaders Esh Winning ended in a stalemate that did not surprise too many neutral observers.
On one hand they were quite relieved to come out of the game with the championship still well within their grasp, on the other they felt a little frustrated as a potentially successful run chase was hampered by a slow second innings over-rate.
But what is certain is that the game could have gone either way right to the very end, and this after it looked like Dawdon were going to be overrun at one stage.
Esh’s second-wicket pairing of skipper Dave Lawlor and Michael Oughton (85) laid into the home attack with gusto, putting on 190 at a tremendous rate before Lawlor was bowled for 99 after crashing 15 fours and three sixes.
But just how important their skipper is to them was highlighted by the amazing collapse that followed with eight wickets going down for just 36 runs, and forcing Lawlor into a declaration on 231-9. Mark Ewart (4-42) and Dave Renwick (4-30) took all eight wickets to fall in the chaotic end to the first innings, which only lasted a total of 41 overs.
This, theoretically, gave Dawdon 54 overs to chase, but, in the event, they only received 47 as time was called at 7.30pm, with the home team on 205-8 and the game in the balance.
Dawdon will point to the fact that time pressure caused the run chase to veer off course after it had reached a promising 164-4, with Nathan Newton on 50 and Richard Ede 35, but Esh will point to the fact that their approach saw the hosts on the brink of defeat on 190-8. Honours even!
What the draw did do was allow Mainsforth to creep closer to the two teams above them, their nine-wicket hammering of relegation-threatened Hylton lifting them to within two points of Dawdon. Hylton skipper Alan Mustard hit 12 boundaries in a defiant 76, but his effort, and 31 from Steven Lee Merrington, stood glaringly alone as Jonny Barnes (5-31) and Faisal Iqbal (3-26) dominated. Set 154, Mainsforth had the win in the bag inside 33 overs, Lee Hutton hitting an unbeaten 77.
For Hylton, the paltry two points they took from the game were of little use in their battle to avoid the drop as they are now some 31 points adrift of safety, with the clock beginning to tick.
The clock has almost stopped for Boldon CA.
The bottom club put up a feisty performance at home to Durham City but still ended up losing by 153 runs. City skipper Jake McCann (80) set up a declaration on 205-4, helped by Jonny Harding (42) and Steven Howson (36), and then Andrew Hutchinson delivered the killer blows with seven wickets for 23 runs as CA crumbled to 52 all out in 18.2 overs. Paul Moralee plundered 3-29.
Easington found themselves on the end of a nine-wicket drubbing at Crook after being bowled out for 151, despite fine knocks from Vinut Dhulap (56no) and Stuart Pattison (35). Andrew Pratt (77no) steered Crook home in style.
Horden hit their highest Durham League total of 297-6, with Wayne Birks (85), Jamie Greenwood (81) and skipper Carl Watson (45) leading the run fest, but they could not dislodge hosts Bill Quay, who ended on 173-8 thanks to Jeff Tudor’s stoical 86 not out. Adam Dixon (3-25), Watson (2-35) and Akshay Jambhaker (2-25) starred with the ball for Horden.
Philadelphia knocked off a target of 198-7 at Castle Eden, Shaun Hauxwell going past the 500-run milestone for the season with his 68, and Alan Unsworth unlucky to finish on the losing side after scoring an unbeaten 115 for the visitors. Steven Wright bagged 4-30 for Phili, with David Baxter (49no), Peter Greenwell (23) and Anthony Hornby (23) adding support to Hauxwell.