IT is still too close to call in the race for the championship even though only two of the top five sides won at the weekend.
Consett extended their lead to eight points with victory at South Shields, but it was a close call. The only goal came after 37 minutes as Chris Scott outjumped his marker to head home.
Dunston Federation are second with four games in hand on the Steelmen. It was no surprise their game at fifth-top Whitley Bay should end in a draw.
The Fed’s pressure was eventually rewarded early in the second period when David Wells fired into the top corner of the net from 12 yards. Dunston were the stronger side but with 15 minutes remaining David Coulson converted a Lee Kerr free-kick.
Newcastle Benfield stay third but they too were denied victory at Bedlington Terriers. Despite a lack of goals the teams produced an exciting game with Benfield passing up the best chance when Stephen Young’s penalty was saved by Gareth Powell.
West Allotment Celtic are fourth after they came from behind to win at relegation-threatened Bishop Auckland for whom Amar Purewal scored midway through the first period. Liam Atkin restored parity and a fine solo effort by Andrew Johnson earned Celtic the points.
Spennymoor Town, who had a free day, are also very much in contention. They have played only 27 games – fewer than any other team – and although 10 points adrift of Consett, have played seven games fewer than the leaders.
At the bottom, Seaham Red Star improved their chances of avoiding the drop with victory at Ashington. Alan Hogg and Paul Richardson struck for the Colliers with Stephen Winspear, Robert Bettson (pen) and Jonathan French earning Red Star three crucial points. Seaham and Bishop Auckland are joined in the bottom three by Northallerton Town, who didn’t have a game, and West Auckland Town moved out of the relegation zone with victory at Ryton.
Lukas Linhart produced a good finish from 15 yards on 14 minutes but the outcome wasn’t settled until an Ian Maddison penalty a minute from time.
Morpeth Town enjoyed the division’s biggest win of the day when they went nap at home to Billingham Town. Alex Benjamin rifled a hat-trick with Chris Rue and Iain Nickalls also on target. John Alexander claimed a consolation for the Teessiders.
Chester-le-Street won at Penrith thanks to Liam Robinson and Craig Price, and after conceding a 32nd-minute penalty to Richard Hodgson, Tow Law Town defeated Sunderland Nissan with efforts from Andrew Johnson and Luke Sullivan (pen).
Following a dreary first half, Billingham Synthonia brightened up the game when Darren Sankey gave them the lead at Shildon. Just before the end Danny Moore equalised.
Five sides are battling for the three promotion places in Division Two. Esh Winning are in pole position after defeating Jarrow Roofing in an eventful game.
David Graham gave Roofing the lead and after Craig Coates levelled, Roofing had Craig Tait and Paul Catto sent off by the 38th minute.
Michael Fort swung the advantage to Esh and a minute from time he was again on target from the penalty spot. At this stage, Martin Thompson was the third Jarrow player to be dismissed, the trio joining their manager Richard McLoughlin, who had been sent from the dug-out during the first half.
Norton and Stockton Ancients are three points behind Esh with as many games in hand. They were taken to the wire by North Shields, who were unlucky to concede an own goal for the Norton winner.
Harrison Davies delivered a fierce cross into the penalty area and unfortunately from the Robins’ point of view, Anthony Lowther deflected the ball past his goalkeeper.
Horden CW remain third but lost ground when Robert Fowler and Craig Robson scored for Whitehaven.
Fourth-top Marske United were without a fixture and Sunderland RCA are up to fifth after defeating Washington with first-half goals by Stephen Stewart and Andy Jennings.
Crook Town’s faltering promotion challenge just about ended at Team Northumbria who won a nine-goal thriller. Lee Johnson, with a hat-trick, Oliver Roddy (2) and John Redhead netted with Darren Kokes (2) and Matthew Coad replying for Crook.
Prudhoe Town moved off the bottom of the table with victory at Birtley Town where Alan Brown scored the only goal late in the game.
Finbar Lynch’s half-volley proved sufficient for Hebburn Town at home to Guisborough Town and an 89th-minute strike from Paul Callan denied Darlington RA a share of the points at Stokesley SC.