SPENNYMOOR Town won the crucial match of the day before a bumper crowd of 582 at Hillheads to edge closer towards a third consecutive championship, but Whitley Bay’s chances have all but ended.
The only goal came after an hour when substitute Michael Laws headed past Kyle Hayes.
From then on Moors were the dominant side, although it took a fantastic save by Robert Dean to prevent Chris Fawcett from equalising in stoppage time.
Another of the title contenders Sunderland RCA also conceded points when they were held to a goal-less draw by sixth-placed Newton Aycliffe.
At the other end of the table, a number of sides are battling to avoid the drop – although Stokesley SC are all but mathematically relegated.
A point against South Shields was only their third of the season.
Andrew Barclay fired the Mariners in front and, with three minutes left, Nathan Porritt equalised, scoring only his team’s 22nd goal in 33 games.
South Shields are also fighting for survival as are Tow Law Town, who have a lot to do if they are to retain top-flight status.
Defeat at Guisborough Town leaves them precariously placed, second from the basement.
Austin Johnston, Nathan Steel and Michael Roberts were the matchwinners for Guisborough, whose fortunes on and off the field have improved considerably in recent weeks.
Jarrow Roofing remain third from bottom and are now equal on points with Penrith.
Richie McLoughlin’s side claimed a crucial point when they held Ashington to a draw.
Darren Reay was an early marksman, but before the interval Gareth Bainbridge levelled shortly after being introduced as a substitute.
Penrith left it late before equalising against Bedlington Terriers, a result which keeps them out of the relegation zone – but only on goal difference from Jarrow Roofing.
Tim Clasper delivered a clinical finish from 20 yards to raise the hopes of the Cumbrians.
An eight-minute delay followed when an assistant referee was injured and took no further part in the game.
Skipper Stephen Bowey restored parity and Anthony Shandran gave Terriers the lead but, with just two minutes remaining, Martin Coleman earned Penrith a welcome point.
Billingham Town are also in the bottom six after going down to Consett, for whom Lewis Teasdale scored.
Newcastle Benfield maintained their top-half-of-the-table position with a narrow win over Shildon courtesy of goals from Brian Dodsworth and Ian Graham. Josh Home Jackson replied for the visitors.
Team Northumbria took another step towards promotion from Division Two, although they were flattered to win by four goals at Washington.
Peter Watling scored twice against his former club, with Dan Riley and Tom Davies also on target.
Gavin Barton has proved to be an astute signing for Gillford Park and the former Spennymoor Town striker scored all four goals against Crook Town to help keep the Cumbrians in second place.
Morpeth Town are now third following victory over Seaham Red Star with strikes from Ashley McAlpine and Stephen Howes.
Birtley Town maintained their challenge with a draw at North Shields, who have slipped to eighth from top following an indifferent spell. John Grey and Paul Gordon netted for the Robins, John Martin twice replying.
Darlington RA were without a fixture and stay fifth with Hebburn Town and West Allotment Celtic also in the promotion race. Liam McBryde, Dan Kirkup and Callum Charlton eased Hebburn to victory at home to Brandon United.