HEBBURN Town took leaders Darlington 1883 to the wire in last night’s Ebac Northern League First Division game at Heritage Park.
The only goal came after five minutes when David Dowson fired over goalkeeper Dan Regan. Hebburn’s hopes receded when they had Daniel Kirkup red-carded midway through the second period.
Newcastle Benfield eased their relegation worries with a splendid victory over Shildon at the weekend but were unable to replicate the performance against third-top West Auckland Town.
Elliott Gardner was a 15th-minute marksman for West who went two goals up after 65 minutes when he was again on target, with a spectacular overhead kick. Benfield hit back and debutant Gary Day threw his side a lifeline but in stoppage time there was a double blow for the Tynesiders.
Goalkeeper Andrew Grainger brought down Mattie Moffat and was sent off and from the resultant penalty John Campbell wrapped up a 3-1 victory.
After being hit with a five-goal blast in their previous game, North Shields’ promotion challenge is back on track following a 3-0 home win over Washington.
It wasn’t until the 70th minute though that they broke the deadlock with a clinical strike from Jonathan Hall. Leading scorer Robbie Nolan quickly made it two and just before the end he was again on target with another excellent finish.
At the other end of the table, Esh Winning remain third-bottom following a 3-0 defeat at home to West Allotment Celtic.
Dean Lee and Shaun Reid (pen) had Allotment two goals up inside 20 minutes but in the 38th minute they had David Henderson sent off.
Despite the numerical disadvantage they were still too strong for Esh and David Dorman made sure of victory as he slotted past Mark Bell.
Holders Northallerton Town cruised into the second round of the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup with a 3-0 success over Alnwick Town. The home side made a dream start with Colin Anderson heading home
And then after half-an-hour James Bowman was also on target.
Alnwick kept up the fight but their hopes ended on 83 minutes when recent signing Micky Dunwell struck with a low shot from 12 yards.
After suffering a rare defeat at the weekend, Willington lost further ground in the race for the Wearside League championship when Redcar Athletic sprang a surprise at Hall Lane.
With time running out Billy Millington scored the only goal, driving past Willington goalkeeper David Moffat from inside the penalty area. Gateshead Leam Rangers lost by the odd goal in three at Darlington Cleveland Bridge for whom Darren Pearson was a first-half scorer.
Liam Cook equalised in the 73rd minute but the Tynesiders’ hopes of taking at least a point were thwarted as substitute Ryan Leslie hit an 87th-minute winner after being on the field for only five minutes.
David Keighley put Sunderland West End in front, a lead they held until the 89th minute when Hartlepool’s Aaron Hopper restored parity with a tremendous shot from 20 yards.