SOUTH Shields are not out of the woods by a long way but at least they are off the bottom of the table and perhaps can see light at the end of what has been a very dark tunnel in recent months.
They ended a long losing sequence in the previous game at Guisborough Town and made it back-to-back wins with victory over Marske United on Saturday.
Liam Henderson gave them the lead with an unstoppable shot from outside the penalty area and, after Lewis Tidy equalised from close range, Jason Brazauskas struck the winner.
It was not all joy for the Mariners, though, who had Wayne Clarke and Chris Feasey sent off in the second half.
Norton and Stockton Ancients now prop up the table following a damaging defeat to Sunderland RCA, whose marksmen were Aristote Guerin Lakonga, Jamie Clarke and Elliott Cutts. Liam Woodhouse had given the Teessiders an early lead.
Newcastle Benfield, with four points out of six from the two games with Steve Bowey in charge, eased their relegation fears but, after trailing three times, might well be disappointed at conceding a last-minute equaliser to Guisborough Town.
Gary Day, with a brace, Gary Ormston and Stephen Young netted with Gary Wood (2) and Michael Roberts (2) replying in the eight-goal thriller.
Billingham Town also improved their chances of avoiding the drop when they romped to victory over Team Northumbria as the goals flowed from Harrison Davies with a brace, Josh McDonald and Stephen Flockett. It was a day for the underdogs and Penrith, another side too near the bottom for comfort, also picked up three crucial points at Hebburn Town.
Martin Coleman (2), Robert Bowman and William Paul struck with Paul Gardner replying for the South Tynesiders.
Bedlington Terriers put their off-field problems behind them but still went down narrowly at West Auckland Town, for whom John Campbell (pen) and Mattie Moffat, with a superb individual effort, were the matchwinners. Paul Brayson had equalised.
Dunston UTS, disappointed losing in the FA Carlsberg Vase the previous week, succumbed to Newton Aycliffe, for whom Danny Earl and Paul Broom scored either side of half time.
Despite leading through Andrew Johnson, Ashington went down to Shildon, whose marksmen were Mark Hudson, with a penalty, and Billy Greulich Smith.
Whitley Bay stay fourth-top after narrowly defeating Billingham Synthonia. The Seahorses dominated the first half and could well have led by a bigger margin than two goals scored by Paul Chow and James Fairley.
Synners, though, took over in the second period and, after Dan Johnson cut the deficit, Whitley had to withstand considerable pressure.
There is no change at the top of the Second Division following victories for the three leading sides.
It was a close call for two of them, however, and leaders Crook Town only just saw off a spirited challenge from bottom-of-the-table Alnwick Town. At one stage the Northumbrians led through Tom Vickers and Tony Brown after Kyle Davis had given Crook an advantage.
With only a minute remaining, Warren Byrne equalised and deep into stoppage time Davis drove in the winner.
Third-top Jarrow Roofing hit Chester-le-Street for six after Michael Hepplewhite had fired the Cestrians into the lead. Liam McBryde (2), Andrew Soulsby, Peter Kane, David Palmer and Daniel Smart earned Roofing another three crucial points.
North Shields moved into the top six when goals by Adam Forster and James Harmison proved pivotal at home to Esh Winning and West Allotment Celtic defeated Whitehaven with an only goal from Dean Lee.