IT’S still nip and tuck at the top of the table with at least seven sides in contention for the championship.
Consett lead the field and victory over third-placed Spennymoor Town was crucial. The Steelmen romped into a three-goal lead through Chris Scott (2) and Richard Logan by the 51st minute but when Chris Lawther and Carl Richards struck within five minutes, an exciting final 14 minutes ensued.
Whitley Bay, on FA Carlsberg Vase duty, are second and West Allotment Celtic fourth after they saw off Seaham Red Star, with Keith Douglas’ goal. Newcastle Benfield are also in with a good chance of finishing in pole position. They left it late before defeating West Auckland Town with two goals in the last three minutes from Michael Chilton and Ian Graham.
Dunston Federation are in sixth place after extending an unbeaten sequence to 20 games at the expense of Bedlington Terriers. David Wells (pen), Mark Sheeran and Fergal Harkin fired them into a three-goal lead before Anthony Shandran replied.
Sunderland Nissan maintained their challenge with victory over Billingham Town courtesy of Tyson Masters (2) and Andrew Thompson. Bishop Auckland had a free day and remain bottom of the table with Seaham Red Star just a point better off. Despite defeating Tow Law Town, Northallerton Town occupy the third relegation place. Carl Chillingsworth (2), Ross Hodgson and Gareth Williams struck with Chris Renshaw and Andrew Johnson replying for the Lawyers.
South Shields improved their chances of avoiding the drop with victory at Morpeth Town, where Craig Ellison and Glen Reay scored in the second half.
Ashington too are in the bottom six and their only success at Billingham Synthonia was credited to Gareth Bainbridge. James Magowan had given Synners the cushion of a two-goal lead. Ryton’s good form ended at Penrith, who moved into the top half with two goals from Michael Reed after Carl Patterson had given the Tynesiders a half-time advantage.
Damien Maw and Craig Price twice had Chester-le-Street in front at Shildon, who battled back through Warren Byrne and John Hutton.
Several clubs are competing for the three promotion places in Division Two. Leaders Esh Winning had their advantage trimmed to just a couple of points when they could only draw at North Shields. Stuart Heppell scored two goals for the Robins, with Nicky Martin and Craig Coates responding.
Norton and Stockton Ancients stay second after winning at Stokesley SC with strikes from Micky Dunwell and Gary Mitchell, while Horden CW are in third position. Jamie Clarke, Darren Atkinson and Ian Clark (pen) led the Colliers to victory over Prudhoe Town.
Crook Town’s bid faltered at home to Brandon United, whose matchwinners were Mark O’Day and Paul Fothergill (pen).
Sunderland RCA also lost ground when Guisborough Town won thanks to Liam McPhillips and Gary Wood.
At the bottom, Darlington RA beat Whickham with an only goal from Nick Lyons while mid-table Hebburn Town held Whitehaven to a draw. Mike Farrer had given the Cumbrians a first-half lead but Michael Armstrong equalised for Hebburn.
Team Northumbria just edged Thornaby thanks to Adam Davey (2) and Luke Harrop (pen). After trailing by three goals, basement side Thornaby almost grabbed a point when Dean Fox and Anthony Abel replied.
Washington won at Jarrow Roofing courtesy of Richard Paxton and Keith Hutchinson. Scott Emmerson had levelled for Jarrow.