CONSETT opened up a clear lead at the top of the table with victory at West Auckland Town.
The Steelmen left it late and there were only 20 minutes left as Jonjo Dickman broke the deadlock. Five minutes later he was again on target and, when Gary Ormston struck, it was all over for West Auckland, who stay fourth bottom.
Whitley Bay are second top, three points behind Consett with a game in hand while Spennymoor Town just edged Penrith and are also in contention. Leading scorer Jamie Clarke bagged both goals with Dean Douglas on target for the Cumbrians.
West Allotment Celtic are fourth, but they had to settle for a goalless draw at Tow Law Town.
Dunston Federation are another side in the mix-up despite being held by Ryton, who continue to impress during their first season in the top flight. Andrew Bulford was an early scorer for the Fed before Steven Shaw levelled 10 minutes into the second period. Dunston have now gone 18 games unbeaten.
Newcastle Benfield enjoyed the biggest win of the day to jump into the top six. Geoff Forsyth (2), Michael Chilton, Stephen Young, Scott Marshall and Ian Graham swept them to a 6-1 victory over Northallerton Town, who managed just one goal from Carl Chillingsworth.
Two sides scored five times. Robbie Draper (2), Nathan Fisher (2) and Josh Home-Jackson led Chester-le-Street home against basement side Bishop Auckland, for whom Amar Purewal and Andrew Richardson netted.
Second-bottom Seaham Red Star conceded five goals to Billingham Synthonia with Jason Honeyman (2), Daniel Fowler, James Magowan and Michael Jameson on target.
South Shields are another side fighting relegation and although Johnny Wightman put them ahead, Shildon took all three points thanks to Warren Byrne (2) and Daniel Moore. Ashington were involved in a six-goal thriller at Billingham Town as the game ended 3-3. Michael Fenwick and Lee McAndrew, with a brace, struck for the Colliers with John Alexander and Shaun Boynton (2) on the mark for the Teessiders.
Alex Benjamin hit a hat-trick for Morpeth Town but still finished on the losing side as Bedlington Terriers ran out exciting 4-3 winners with goals from Lee Ludlow (2), Anthony Shandran and Scott Robson.
In Division Two, Esh Winning lead the field after seeing off Birtley Town with strikes from Graeme Liddle and Nicky Martin. Stephen Burns replied.
Norton and Stockton Ancients stay second after they were put to the test by Team Northumbria, who led through Lee York. David Hillerby restored parity before Sonny Andrews hit the winner.
Craig Hubbard (2) and Kevin Devine earned third-placed Horden CW crucial points at home to Jarrow Roofing, for whom Paul Catto and Martin Thompson found the net.
Marske United, on FA Carlsberg Vase duty yesterday, are fourth while Crook Town defeated Washington with an only goal from Dan Olusago.
Sunderland RCA drew with bottom-of-the-table Thornaby, who claimed a point thanks to Darren Morton and Dean Fox (pen).
Andy Jennings and Adam McGuinness were on the mark for the Wearsiders.
Despite goals by Chris Holmes and Andy Wilson, Whickham went down 4-2 to Guisborough Town while Prudhoe Town and North Shields shared the spoils. Alan Brown and Liam Bell netted for the home side with Stuart Heppell and Andy Bowman responding for the Robins.
Afolabi Shekoni (2), Kim Bowman (2) and Stephen Fothergill swept Brandon United to victory over Darlington RA.