SkillTrainingLtd Northern League

IT remains extremely tight at the top of the table, with several sides in contention for the championship.

IT remains extremely tight at the top of the table, with several sides in contention for the championship.

Leaders Consett were without a fixture and their advantage was reduced to just three points by Newcastle Benfield, who defeated Chester-le-Street with the only goal netted by Michael Chilton.

Spennymoor Town, who have played fewer games than any of their rivals, moved into third place after they came from behind to defeat Bedlington Terriers. Alex Lawson was a first-half marksman, but in the second period Moors found their scoring form through Jamie Clarke (2) and Karl Richards.

Dunston Federation suffered an unexpected blow, losing to Billingham Synthonia, for whom Danny Earl and Colin Iley struck.

The Fed are fourth and West Allotment Celtic fifth after their fixture at Morpeth Town was called off by the referee just before kick-off. The official deemed the Craik Park pitch to be unplayable.

It may be too late for Sunderland Nissan to mount a challenge but they are in good form at present, as Ashington found to their cost.

The Wearsiders romped into a three-goal lead through Tyson Masters, Andrew O’Shea and Neil Tarrant.

The Colliers conceded a fourth goal as Richard Hodgson converted a late penalty.

Several teams are involved in the relegation battle and Seaham Red Star are back at the bottom after losing to Bishop Auckland, who moved up to third from the basement. Adam Strong scored the only goal 18 minutes from time.

West Auckland Town occupy the other relegation position after crashing to a 4-1 defeat at South Shields despite having the advantage of an early goal by Neil Bell.

Chris Feasey led the Mariners’ second-half fightback and his goal was quickly followed by others from Mark Brocklehurst, Craig Ellison and Stephen Ramsey.

The win lifted Shields to sixth from the bottom ahead of Billingham Town, who conceded a stoppage-time equaliser to Penrith’s David Lynn.

The Teessiders had led for 81 minutes courtesy of John Alexander.

Northallerton Town are also battling against the drop and a 5-2 defeat at Ryton was not helpful.

Dale Burrell, Carl Patterson, John Parker, Daniel Smart and an own goal accounted for Ryton’s five with Martin O’Riordan and Martin Butterworth claiming consolations.

Shildon and Tow Law Town are in the top half of the table, and it was the Lawyers who came out on top with strikes by Kraig Wilkinson and Lee Hamilton. Mattie Gowland had equalised for Shildon.

The four leading sides in Division Two all won. In their previous game Prudhoe Town shocked fifth-placed Marske United but they were unable to repeat a giant-killing act at Norton and Stockton Ancients, where they suffered an 8-1 mauling.

Gary Mitchell (3), Michael Dunwell (2), Nathan Mulligan (2) and Sonny Andrews were the scorers, with Andrew Brown claiming a lone goal for Prudhoe.

Norton lead the table by three points from Esh Winning, who won a five-goal thriller at Whitehaven with a late goal by Keiron Megran. Craig Coates and Graeme Liddle were the other marksmen with Craig Robson twice on target for the Cumbrians.

Horden CW saw off bottom-of-the-table Thornaby with a second-minute goal by Kevin Devine and one six minutes from time by Darren Atkinson.

Sunderland RCA maintained their challenge, defeating Whickham courtesy of Mark McLeod, Shaun Joseph and Mark Davison.

John Redhead (2), Luke Harrop and Adam Davie netted for Team Northumbria in a 4-4 draw with Brandon United, whose scorers were Alex Wilson, Paul Dixon, Anthony Verity and Billy Smith.

North Shields extended their unbeaten sequence to six games in a goal-less draw with Guisborough Town, while Jarrow Roofing arrested a slump when Craig Nelson converted a late penalty for the only goal at Birtley Town.

There is an important First Division fixture tonight when Newcastle Benfield host FA Carlsberg Vase finalists Whitley Bay at Sam Smiths Park. Benfield will go equal on points with Consett if they win while Whitley, currently sixth, are also in with a chance of winning the championship.

MALCOLM PRATT

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