IT’S still nip and tuck at the top of the STL Northern League First Division after the five leading sides all won on Saturday.
West Auckland Town’s victory at Stokesley SC was predictable but they didn’t enjoy a glut of goals against the bottom side which has conceded no fewer than 103 in 22 games.
Nevertheless, they won comfortably with a brace from Mattie Moffat and one by Michael Rae.
Dunston UTS, who are just a point behind West Auckland, were taken to the wire by improving South Shields at Filtrona Park. There were just nine minutes left on the clock when Chris Swailes headed in the only goal.
Spennymoor Town are third and they too had their work cut out against sixth-top Newton Aycliffe. A Sonny Andrews penalty on the half-hour was all that separated the teams.
Following a disappointing performance in their previous game, Whitley Bay bounced back to form at Bishop Auckland. Two goals from Lee Kerr and one from Lee Paul Scroggins earned them the points with Andy Johnson Bishop’s only scorer.
Sunderland RCA seem to be over their recent blip in form and although they conceded the lead to James Magowan, the Wearsiders romped to victory at home to Norton and Stockton Ancients, with second-half strikes from hat-trick hero Alex Benjamin and Stephen Jones.
At the other end of the table, Stokesley SC are rock-bottom and Tow Law Town are just above them.
The Lawyers though can now see light at the end of the tunnel after claiming three crucial points at the expense of Billingham Synthonia who led for a long period with Chay Liddle’s penalty.
Mark Nixon came up trumps for the Lawyers, scoring twice in the second period and he was unlucky not to finish with a hat-trick when a goalbound shot was deflected just wide of the post.
After hitting Bishop Auckland with a seven-goal rout last week, Ashington hammered Penrith for six. Philip Bell scored another two to take his total from two games to seven.
Andrew Johnson hit a hat-trick and Gareth Rees also joined in the scoring.
Willie Paul claimed a consolation for the Cumbrians.
Consett were well beaten by Marske United at Belle Vue Park where poor defending didn’t help their cause. Carl Charlton (2), Benn Thompson and a Barry Poskett own goal swept Marske to an easy win. Stephen Richardson was the scorer of both Bedlington Terriers’ goals in the victory at Jarrow Roofing, and Michael Chilton and Ross Peareth earned Newcastle Benfield a point against Shildon who replied courtesy of Chris Hughes and Kenneth Boyle (og).
Team Northumbria enjoy a six-point lead in Division Two following victory over Brandon United with an early goal from Jack Palmer and a late strike by Dean Critchlow.
Esh Winning are second and they extended their good form, defeating Whitehaven with goals by Adam Johnson, Craig Mickle and Craig Coates, who also had a hand in the first two goals.
North Shields stretched their unbeaten sequence and remain third despite claiming only a point at fourth-from-bottom Chester-le-Street for whom Scott Swanson cancelled out Andy Hay’s early strike.
Darlington RA edged Seaham Red Star to stay just outside the three promotion places.
James Eddison and Nick Harrison had them two goals ahead but when Jonathan Monaghan reduced the deficit, RA had to hang on in the final minutes.
West Allotment Celtic are also on the fringes of the promotion race and they also experienced some anxious moments at home to Birtley Town. Celtic appeared to be coasting to victory when Sean Reid (2) and Paul Kane (pen) fired them into a three-goal lead inside 33 minutes and Birtley’s Andrew Grant-Soulsby had been sent off.
Birtley, though, mounted a spirited second-half fightback. Craig Marron reduced the deficit from the penalty spot and it was all to play for when Matthew Hornsby cut the deficit to a single goal.
Alnwick Town went down at Northallerton Town whose matchwinners were Carl Chillingsworth (2) and Dan Clayton, and Hebburn Town defeated Ryton and Crawcrook Albion with a brace from Liam McBryde, Adam Rowntree had levelled for Ryton.
Morpeth Town shared the points in an eight-goal thriller at Thornaby, for whom Graeme Baverstock, Daniel Lofts, Craig Skelton (pen) and Marcus Laing netted with Stephen Anderson (2), David Dormand and Chris Lunn replying for the Northumbrians.
Crook Town enjoyed a seven-goal romp at home to Easington Colliery. Kevin Devine (2), Richard Hodgson, Brian Fairhurst, Kyle Davis, Robbie Bird and Graeme Liddle struck with Chris Tarn the only scorer for Easington who prop up the table.