SUNDERLAND RCA closed the gap on STL Northern League Division One leaders West Auckland Town to a single point when they defeated Tow Law Town courtesy of Gary Shields (2) and Brian Close.
Spennymoor Town moved into third place and they, too, won by a three-goal margin at Penrith. Stephen Richardson bagged a brace with Gavin Cogden also beating James Holland.
Consett erased a two-goal deficit in holding top-six side Newton Aycliffe to a draw. It looked difficult for the Steelmen when Ben Wood and Paul Broom had Aycliffe in front. Dale Burrell fired his side back into the game and soon afterwards, Aycliffe had Wood sent off. Consett took advantage and within two minutes were level through Carl Piecha.
At the other end of the table, Stokesley SC are all but relegated after losing to third-from-the-basement Jarrow Roofing.
Callum McMahon, Chris Hughes and Craig Nelson eased Roofing’s position with Owen Dixon replying for Stokesley who have taken just one point from 29 games.
Tow Law Town occupy the other relegation spot while Billingham Town improved their position with a crucial win against South Shields, who at one stage led with goals from Denver Morris and Chris Feasey. David Onions had given the Teessiders the advantage but there was an element of luck when a goalline clearance rebounded from the chest of Jamie Owens for the equaliser. Owens then hit the winner six minutes from time.
A draw was a fair result at the Sam Smiths ground where Tony Chapman volleyed in for Bedlington Terriers before debutant Aristote Lokonga struck Newcastle Benfield’s equaliser.
In Division Two, Team Northumbria took another step towards promotion beating fifth-top North Shields by the only goal. After 18 minutes Lee Scott struck and in the first half both he and Peter Watling hit the Robins’ crossbar. Five minutes from the end Team goalkeeper Andrew Jennison was sent off for handling the ball outside the box to deny Dean Holmes a scoring opportunity.
Gillford Park are up to second – their highest rating so far – after hitting Thornaby with a seven-goal rout.
Gavin Barton, signed from Spennymoor Town, celebrated his debut with four goals. Ryan Errington, Michael Reed and Lee Hoolickin were also on target before Lee Farrington and Mark Lilley claimed consolation goals for the visitors. Darlington RA stay second despite losing at Morpeth Town whose marksmen were Ashley McAlpine and Connor Andrew and a Kieran Megran goal at Alnwick Town was sufficient to lift Esh Winning into fourth place.
Birtley Town are also pushing for promotion and they kept alive their chances at Hebburn Town, where Daniel Smart scored both goals. Stephen Foster replied for the South Tynesiders.
Recently, Easington Colliery almost folded but they were back in action and an 88th-minute strike from David Paul earned them three crucial points in the bottom-three battle with neighbours Seaham Red Star.