THREE sides are battling to avoid joining Horden CW in the Second Division next season.
Morpeth Town, though, look doomed since they will have to win their last five matches to have any chance of surviving.
Considering they have won on only six occasions, this seems an improbable task.
It has been a difficult season for the Northumbrians, who have ground-shared with Bedlington Terriers, but a battling performance at Bishop Auckland, theoretically at least, gives them a chance of staying up.
Jon King’s side was rocked when Adam Emson converted two penalties in the space of three minutes.
It was then the turn of Morpeth’s Derek Attwell to fire home a spot-kick ,but Wayne Gredziak quickly restored Bishop’s two-goal cushion.
Undeterred, Morpeth roared back and Peter Bryson reduced the deficit before Carl Short equalised near the end.
Chester-le-Street must win their final game at Penrith on Wednesday night if they are to have any chance of avoiding the drop.
The Cestrians would then be relying on Norton and Stockton Ancients defeating Billingham Town.
Consett’s Stephen Huggins and Gary Ormston and an own goal by Andrew Armstrong added to the woes of the Cestrians, who had gone ahead through Nathan Fisher.
Ryton secured their top-flight status with a comfortable victory over Horden CW with goals from Andrew Barclay, Ross Preston and Richard Logan. West Auckland Town, who looked doomed at Christmas, maintained their remarkable improvement and a 5-1 victory at West Allotment Celtic was their 13th in the last 20 games – after just one win from the first 20 fixtures.
Jon Gibson (2), Tom Berj (2) and Mark Stephenson were the marksmen ,with Marc Walton replying from the penalty spot.
Whitley Bay are now competing with Shildon to be runners-up to champions Spennymoor Town.
The Seahorses, who play three times this week, went down at Penrith whose scorers were Wayne Robertson and Willie Paul (pen).
Ian Chandler’s side are four points behind Shildon with just one game in hand.
Shildon are favourites to finish second after beating Tow Law Town 4-1 thanks to a Martin Houlahan hat-trick and a Stephen Johnson strike. Mattie Huntley was the Lawyers’ only scorer.
Ashington have a chance to finish in the top six following victory at Norton and Stockton Ancients with goals from Alex Benjamin (2), Keith Douglas and Gareth Bainbridge. Michael Emmerson and Jamie Clarke responded.
Bedlington Terriers, still with four games to play, are also in with a shout of a top-six place. An only goal by Chris Philipson proved sufficient at home to Billingham Synthonia.
Stokesley were crowned champions of Division Two with victory at North Shields who went behind to Neil Radigan and Simon O’Shea. Femi Akinbola threw the Robins a lifeline, but Stokesley survived late pressure to open up an eight-point lead at the top.
Sunderland RCA and Jarrow Roofing are also promoted, but both suffered heavy defeats in their penultimate matches.
Team Northumbria surprisingly enjoyed a four-goal romp on Wearside. Mark McCutcheon (3) and Graeme Cairns on target.
Jarrow Roofing, denied a place in the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup Final by third-bottom Thornaby in their previous game, were again defeated, this time by Northallerton Town.
Daniel Kirkup, Carl Chillingsworth (pen), Stephen Allison and Nick Lyons all netted with Chris Hughes and Kevin Davison replying for Roofing.