IT was a tale of two players at the top of the table - one a number nine and the other a number one.
For while Harry Tulip was netting a hat-trick at Wark that maintained pole position for Ponteland United, Alnwick Town goalkeeper Bob Brooks pulled off some top-class saves at Blyth Town as his side held on for the win.
Tulip's treble ensured that the five-point gap was maintained – with Dale Telfer on target for Wark – and Alnwick's Chris Moffat drilled an outstanding shot into the net in the 10th minute at South Newsham playing fields. Although it was backs-to-the-wall stuff from then on, the St. James' Park outfit displayed their grit to keep up the pressure.
Harraby CC were also 1-0 winners at Ashington Colliers with Sergio Royo hitting the winner in the 22nd minute. Royo also rattled the woodwork and Ashington had efforts cleared off the line.
David Bulman took full advantage of a goalkeeping error to tap Walker Central ahead at Carlisle City and, although James Hartley levelled things up, Central top scorer Nabby Benny hit the winner.
Seaton Delaval Amateurs had Michael Robinson and Craig Johnson on target in a 2-0 success over bottom side Cramlington Town, and Killingworth Sporting's Paul Dunn scored twice in a 4-1 win at Murton.
Paul Garside shot the home side ahead but Dunn's double, an own goal and a Jorge Bollado effort made up the total.
Gateshead Rutherford also hit four on the road in a good win at Shankhouse. Kevin Hay hit a double with David Casper and John Dewhurst getting in on the act. Johnny Hewitt netted the consolation.
Eddie Yates hit two and Lawrence McKenna got the other for Heaton Stannington as they advanced in the George Dobbins League Cup with a 3-1 success over Percy Main. Malcolm Morien replied with a penalty.
Stocksfield went into the Charity Cup final with a 3-0 win over Simonside SC. Edward Brazier hit a double and Wayne Stewart got the other. The Griffins will face Shields United for the silverware.