THERE were further twists and turns in the race for the championship with two of the top-five sides losing.
Spennymoor Town are still favourites despite suffering an unexpected defeat at home to Ryton for whom Ryan Bell scored the only goal on 18 minutes.
West Allotment Celtic were on the receiving end of a heavy defeat by Shildon whose Warren Byrne scored twice and made his team’s third goal, converted by Chris Bell.
The leading three sides all won, leaving Consett eight points clear at the top. They were taken to the wire though by Chester-le-Street and it took a 77th-minute strike from Steve Johnson to earn the Steelmen crucial points. Dunston Federation are second, with three games in hand. They too found the going difficult against Billingham Town despite taking a two-goal lead courtesy of Steven Pickering and Andrew Bulford. John Alexander struck late for the Teessiders but the Fed held on.
Third-top Newcastle Benfield romped into a three-goal lead as Ian Graham (2) and Kevin Leighton penetrated the South Shields defence. Simon Fitzpatrick pulled one back.
There is also no change at the bottom. Seaham Red Star trailed to goals from Anthony Chapman, Richard Hodgson and Paul Collins at Sunderland Nissan, before Lee Armes claimed a consolation goal.
Bishop Auckland are just a point and a place above Red Star following a goalless draw at Tow Law Town, while Northallerton Town are also in the relegation zone. They crashed 5-1 against Ashington, for whom Alan Hogg scored four times.
West Auckland Town earned a point in a 2-2 draw at home to Bedlington Terriers.
Morpeth Town are beginning to make home advantage count. Their latest success was a 3-1 over Billingham Synthonia.
The Division Two promotion race took on a new perspective with Horden CW’s victory over leaders Norton and Stockton Ancients.
Mark Stephens, Craig Hubbard and Chris I’Anson all netted in the second period and third-top Horden are now just seven points behind Norton with a game in hand.
Esh Winning are equal on points with Norton while Marske United slipped up losing at Guisborough Town . Sunderland RCA enhanced their prospects for one of the three promotion places winning 5-1 at Brandon United as the goals flowed from Mark Davison (2), Andy Jennings, Shaun Joseph and Steve Stewart. Billy Greulich-Smith was Brandon’s only marksman.
It is also extremely tight at the bottom of the table. Thornaby remain at the basement despite defeating Washington, who are just two places above them, with a brace of goals from Paul Vickers. Jamie Elrington had equalised for the Newtowners. Prudhoe Town are sandwiched between the pair after they gained a useful point against Whitehaven. Joseph McAnespie gave the home side the lead and there were only nine minutes remaining as David Dustin equalised for the Cumbrians. Jarrow Roofing’s problems show no signs of abating and they crashed to an 8-2 defeat at Team Northumbria. Lee Johnson rifled four goals with Luke Harrop (2) and John Redhead (2) also on the mark. Craig Nelson scored both the Jarrow goals.
North Shields made it four wins in five defeating Whickham with strikes from Scott MacDonald and Mark Rasmussen, who also had a penalty saved. Paul Cavanagh was a late scorer for the Glebe side.
Crook Town’s promotion prospects are over after losing 1-0 to Stokesley SC for whom O’Shea scored in the first minute.
:: PENRITH reached the Final of the Cumberland Senior Cup defeating Harraby Catholic Club with a 25th-minute goal by Michael Brown.