WITH six minutes left it looked as if a Whitley Bay fightback would earn them at least a point but Tow Law Town powered to victory at Hillheads Park to become the day's top scorers in Division One.
An early Chris Moore strike was quickly cancelled out as the Lawyers went 3-1 up through Christopher Renshaw, Mark Eccles and David Henderson.
Paul Chow, dangerous in front of goal last season, scored twice within seven minutes, but his heroics counted for nothing as Matthew Gowland and Gavin Mudd netted.
Apart from Billingham Synthonia's 4-0 win against Northallerton thanks to Colin Iley (2), Tyson Masters and Nathan Jamieson, goals were at a premium.
Newcastle Benfield Bay Plastics edged Dunston Federation after establishing a two-goal interval lead through Michael Chilton and debutant Scott Emmerson. Jeff Forsyth conceded an own goal but Benfield held on.
A Keith Douglas penalty after 10 minutes proved sufficient for West Allotment Celtic at Billingham Town. After leaking a goal to Stuart Owens, Morpeth Town claimed the points at West Auckland Town with second-half efforts by Chris Rue and Tom Haigh. Sunderland Nissan won by a similar margin at Bedlington Terriers. Neil Tarrant and Stuart Banks were their scorers with an Anthony Shandran penalty keeping Terriers in the game.
Jamie Clarke and Craig Ruddy had Spennymoor Town two in front against Shildon but Wayne Gredziak reduced the arrears and only goalkeeper Keith Finch enabled Moors to win.
Gareth Bainbridge and Ross Atkinson were Ashington's scorers in a 2-0 win at newly-promoted South Shields while Penrith, also back in the top flight, lost at Consett for whom Mattie Moffat rifled in a hat-trick. An own goal by Gary Ormston was Penrith's reply.
Only a few years ago Ryton were in the Northern Alliance but on Saturday they hosted Bishop Auckland whose history in local football is legendary. Craig Mallon scored the quickest goal of the day to give Ryton the lead but Lee Ellison and John Pilkington turned the tables before Mark Walton gained the First Division new boys a point with his penalty.
Team Northumbria produced a shock in Division Two when they beat Horden CW at Welfare Park. The Colliers have made a number of signings but the visitors were worth their 3-2 win with goals from Dean Critchley (2) and Michael Rolfe. Jamie Arthur and Jonathan French scored for Horden.
Washington found it difficult at Whitehaven, promoted from the Wearside League. The Cumbrians took a four-goal lead through Lee Dixon (pen), Carl McGrady, Chris Jewels (og) and Kevin Law. Although Gary Dixon cut the deficit for Keith Sheardown's team the Cumbrians went nap with a late effort from Craig Robson.
Whickham were first to score through Ian Robson but Esh Winning celebrated as their rally brought goals from Craig Coates (2), Michael Fort and Nicky Martin. And Sunderland RCA, another side expected to challenge for promotion, scored four at Prudhoe Town through Andy Jennings (2), Andrew Bowes and Keith Graydon.
Jarrow Roofing, relegated last time, opened with an encouraging performance at Guisborough where Chris Archer scored two after Greg Booth had given the home side the lead. Stephen Graham and Martin Urwin led Hebburn Town to victory at Marske United for whom Michael Waller struck after two minutes but there was no joy for North Shields at Ralph Gardner Park. They went three down to Stokesley SC's through goals from Stuart Wise, Dale Mendum and Levant Yalcin before Marc Nicholson claimed a consolation.
Barry Smith scored two and so did Paul Dixon as Birtley Town and Brandon United shared the points while Crook Town had a goalless draw at Norton and Stockton Ancients despite playing the last 23 minutes with 10 men after the dismissal of Matthew Coad for dissent. Thornaby hit Darlington RA 4-0 courtesy of Paul Vickers (2), Christopher Moore and Mohammed Abdulah.