Gareth Driver opened the scoring for the hosts in the 25th minute with a five-yard tap-in after Mikey Webster had a powerful header saved well by Alex Glass, but he could only divert it into the path of Driver, who slotted it into the net.
Dan Pickard went close to levelling for the visitors on a couple of occasions in a very open match, but the hosts doubled their lead when Glass miscued a clearance straight to the prolific Driver who slotted into the empty net from 20 yards.
The second half saw Glass make a few important one-on-one saves as Ayton pushed a few men forward looking to gain a foothold in the game.
In the closing 10 minutes Ayton finally levelled as Brad Parkin crossed and Dan Bywater volleyed in from close range.
Player-boss Mark Plumpton then had a chance to level but hit his shot straight at the keeper but then in the last minute James Webb went through and appeared to have been felled by the Heslerton keeper, but no spot-kick was awarded and Heslerton earned three points that are crucial to their promotion push.
Heslerton boss Dean Storry said: “Credit to both sides as it was an excellent game of football.
“Our man of the match was keeper Lewis Smith, who made some vital stops, but centre-back Mikey Webster and central midfielder Mikey Clark also did very well.”
Plumpton added: “I’ve no idea how the ref didn’t give a pen for that late fold on Webb. He claimed it was a corner which it wasn’t and that was it, game over. Man of the match would probably go to Alex Glass, as despite his error, he made a number of outstanding saves.”
West Riding maintained their promotion ambitions with a 3-2 home win against Alma.
Riding took the lead late in the first half when the ball looped up at the near post from a corner and was headed home past the Alma keeper by centre-forward Adam Smith, who usually plays at centre-back, the home players having drawn positions out of a hat before the game.
In the second half Riding extended the lead when Mark Wade poked home again at the front post
Alma then rallied and pulled one back when Jonny Hayes crossed the ball to Phil Clarke ,who slotted home calmly.
The visitors then equalised through Jordan Pratt with Clarke the provider this time.
With the scores level Alma looked like they could have got a hard-earned point until the referee gave a free-kick on the edge of the box and from the resulting free-kick James Seymour headed in the winner at the back post.
Jack South was named as man of the match for an impressive display at centre-back, especially considering he usually plays up front.
Alma boss Phil Clothier said: “I’m really pleased with the way my lads battled . Not many people would have given us much hope against a talented Riding team but we battled hard especially to come back from 2-0 down in the second half when we had no substitutes to call upon.
“My man of the match today was Nick Prew who put his body on the line several times defensively but credit also goes to Matthew Speight who was outstanding as well as Steve Waterson who never stopped running,while the two scorers also impressed.”
Scarborough Sports Barrowcliff completed their fixtures with a 5-2 loss at home to Newlands Reserves, and unless their rivals have a dip in form they look set to miss out on the runners-up spot.
The home side started with only 10 men and went a goal down after only five minutes when Adrian Kwiatkowski fired home, and the same player struck again to put a dominant Newlands side 2-0 ahead on 30 minutes, with the hosts gaining their 11th player shortly afterwards.
The extra man an instant impact, helping the ball onto Leroy Donaldson to score his first goal for the club five minutes before half-time.
A cracking shot from Chris Hannam was then superbly saved by new player-boss Rich Curtis.
After the break the hosts pushed on and were rewarded with an equaliser when a mix-up in the Newlands defence gave Donaldson the opportunity to hit his - and the home side’s - second goal.
This seemed to spur Newlands into action and they started playing some good football through the midfield, catching the Sports defence on the hop with a good ball through. The Sports defender didn’t clear and was caught in possession, Carl Grayson taking it off him and beating the keeper with a half-volley from outside the box.
Soon after Newlands were awarded a penalty, which was taken by Louis Mancrief but well saved by Zac Hansen.
The fourth goal came after a cross from the impressive youngster Mancrief, which was volleyed in by Ross Taylor.
The last goal came in the final minute when another good low cross from Mancrief was tapped in by Ryan Goodworth.
Curtis said; “It was a good all-round team performance so well done to all the lads.”
Jake McAleese hit a double as Cayton earned a 5-1 win at Roscoe’s Bar.
Danny Collins, Jon Best (penalty) and Harry Holden, with a great free-kick, also netted for the victors, with striker John Crowe their man of the match.
Dan Parker pulled it back to 4-1 for Bar with a superb goal, beating a couple of Cayton players before lobbing the keeper.
Parker, Carl Hepples and Jack Worth shared the Bar man of the match award.
Newlands kept themselves in the hunt for the first division title with a 8-0 win at Whitby Wanderers.
Stefan Moon guided them a goal clear at the break with a clinical finish into the top corner.
Then after the interval Newlands took full control as Drew McCoubrey and Stew Bates both bagged hat-tricks.
Jack Hakings scored the other goal, though it was his dad Joe who took the plaudits for Newlands, the 49-year-old turning in a virtuoso performance in the centre of the park.
Trafalgar went into the final of the Scarborough FA Sunday Cup as their semi-final opponents Itis Itis failed to raise a side.