Chester-le-Street let slip seven of their 29-point lead at the top of the Premier Division after being held to a draw by fellow championship hopefuls Benwell Hill.
But they are still happy that they retained their unbeaten record in a closely fought encounter.
Mark Turner’s unbeaten century and a partnership worth 141 with Graeme Cessford, who made 67, allowed the Cestrians to declare after 58 overs on 275-8, and it proved too high a target for their opponents, who set out to provide a shock result but fell short by 24 runs.
Turner, batting at eight, came to the wicket with Chester looking for a match reviver on 77-6, and, with Cessford as his partner, went on to star in the game-changing stand.
He hit 11 fours and three sixes as he faced 96 balls, while Cessford reached the boundary eight times in an innings just short of a run a ball.
Cessford also proved a key figure when Hill put bat to ball, taking the first three wickets and finishing strongly in a 17-over spell in which he conceded just 59 runs and took a fourth scalp. Turner, who shared Chester’s opening attack, was equally frugal and, in conceding just 26 runs in 10 overs, prevented the hosts from getting an early fix on the game.
Chester retained the upper hand despite half centuries for Phil Nicholson and Zohaib Khan, but, as wickets began to tumble – three fell for just 32 runs towards the end – the home team gave up the chase and settled for a decent share of the 27 points allocated to the drawn finish.
Despite a good batting display, Hetton Lyons lost to Newcastle and stayed rooted to second-bottom place in what has become a worrying season.
They are 14 points above the bottom club, Gateshead Fell, but short by eight points of catching Tynemouth above them.
Allan Worthy (62) was again top scorer as Hetton reached 236 in 62.3 overs, backed by 49 from Jarvis Clay, Shaun Birbeck (34), Jonny Malkin (23), Robert Talbot (22) and Josh Coughlin (21), but a century for Newcastle’s Jacques du Toit took the game away from Lyons, who lost by seven wickets. Martin Pollard grabbed two of the wickets to fall.
Whitburn were also defeated despite a splendid 103 from Michael Turns, supported by Paul Shields (37) and Daniel Shurben (32), in their 210-8, with rivals Stockton having a match winner in Rammi Singh, who made 104, with 16 fours. Ian Elliot took 3-45 and Scott Condy 2-61.
Highly acclaimed batting partners Jack Boyle, who made a brilliant century, and Jack Burnham, who smashed 78, put Durham Academy in a strong position against Tynemouth, but the youngsters could not quite pull off the victory.
They had to settle for 16 of the 25 points in a drawn finish. Adam Hickey (3-38) bowled 18 overs, with six maidens.
South Shields enjoyed their biggest win of the season to move into fourth place after smashing 261 runs from 44.4 overs against bottom club Gateshead Fell.
A superb, unbeaten knock of 149 from 144 balls by Aussie Tim David, with 25 boundaries, backed by Mike Dunn’s 77 not out from 98 balls did the damage. The nine-wicket victory was Shields’ third in eight games.
Elsewhere, South Northumberland defeated Blaydon to move closer to leaders Chester-le-Street.