.....big upset against unbeaten Spennymoor Town in their 2000th Ebac Northern League game on Saturday.
City, battling against the drop from the First Division, produced some superb pacey football in a ding-dong game to lead 2-1 with 20 minutes left, but Moors showed their quality to come back and win 3-2, to close the gap on faltering leaders Darlington to four points with three games in hand.
“I thought we maybe panicked a little when we got to 2-1, and we stopped doing the things we’d done really well until then,” said Furness.
“Maybe we were frightened of beating them, and we switched off a little bit. We were unhappy with their second goal, sometimes a foul is given on the keeper in those circumstances, and sometimes there isn’t. But the game was still a good measure of where we’re at.”
It looked as if it would be a stroll for Moors when Lewis Dodds set up former Durham player Steve Richardson to tap in from a few yards on 12 minutes, but City levelled from the penalty spot through Olly Hodgkiss after Scott Fenwick was fouled.
City slowly got on top, and after Spennymoor keeper Robbie Dean somehow pushed a 30-yard Connor Winter lob against the bar, City took the lead when Paul Dixon cut in from the left and unleashed a powerful strike that beat Dean all ends up.
But City lost their way when a high cross from the right was fumbled by City keeper Gareth Young under pressure, and Andrew Stephenson, another former Durham player, fired the ball home through a crowd of players.
Young kept City level with a full length save from Gavin Cogdon’s penalty, but from the corner that followed, sub Mark Davison headed the winner from six yards.
Spennymoor manager Jason Ainsley said: “I thought Durham were the better side in the second half until we equalised. Their second goal lifted us, because only one team was going to win until then. I thought our subs made a big difference.”
Moors now have three tough away games coming up, against Whitley Bay, Dunston UTS and Shildon.
They are also due to announce this week whether they will apply for promotion for the first time, the latest indications are that their application will join Darlington’s at the FA.
Leaders Darlington 1883 were beaten 2-0 at Team Northumbria, for whom Peter Watling scored twice in the second half.
Darlington manager Martin Gray said: “It was a pleasing performance, but we missed too many chances.”
Team Northumbria manager Paul Johnson said: “It was the response we needed after the really poor performance against Aycliffe. In the first half we really imposed ourselves and threatened to score on a number of occasions and then to score so fast after the restart was really pleasing as what we had worked hard for, paid off. We then had to defend for long spells when they had a lot of possession but we stayed compact and kept teasing on the counter. I think we showed glimmers of where we were last season and now all players are back fit I’m hoping we will really kick on.”
West Auckland Town are still in clear third after hammering South Shields 6-0 at Darlington Road, scoring all their goals in the second half.
Mattie Moffat headed West into the lead, then John Campbell scored the goal of the game from a free-kick.
Adam Rundle grabbed the third, and after that West were unstoppable, with Moffat going on to complete his hat-trick and Matthew Coad adding another.
It was the second time in seven days that Shields have conceded six goals.
West Auckland manager Peter Dixon said: “We had a 15 minute spell in the second half when we were excellent.”
Whitley Bay moved into fourth after winning 1-0 at Consett’s wet and windy Belle Vue.
Whitley got the winner on 11 minutes when Ash Davis ran from the halfway line past three defenders and set up Paul Chow to volley home.
After that Consett had the better of the game, but didn’t create many chances, the best of them a shot by Steve Aiston that was saved by Kyle Hayes.
Bay manager Ian Chandler said: “It was a very poor pitch after the recent heavy rain. We changed our team, but ground out an excellent result. We restricted Consett to a couple of half chances, we defended extremely well as a team, and I was probably happier than the 8-3 win over Penrith last week.”
Consett manager Ken Lindoe said: “We were the dominant team throughout but couldn’t score. They defended well but were second best and on the day really did a smash and grab.”
Bedlington Terriers dropped a place after losing 4-2 at home to Celtic Nation.
CN player-manager Steve Skinner put his side in front from a free-kick after 10 minutes, but Paul Brayson levelled from the spot.
Dean Douglas restored CN’s lead from a mistake in the Bedlington defence, then Nathan Porritt opened up the Bedlington defence for Michael Reed to volley home for 3-1 at half-time.
Douglas volleyed a fourth from a Jeff Smith pass, with Anthony Shandran pulling a late goal back for Bedlington, who have lost their last four matches.
Celtic Nation manager Steve Skinner said: “It was a very good performance from the lads on a poor pitch. Over the 90 minutes we were the better team but can’t say too much as our pitch is poor at the moment too. The lads are fantastic at the moment.”
Kieran Megran scored a hat-trick as Bishop Auckland produced one of their best performances of the season, a 6-2 home win over Billingham Town.
Bishops took the lead when Jamie Harwood scored after Andrew Johnson’s shot was blocked, and then Megran scored his first goal in a goalmouth scramble.
Town pulled a goal back just after half-time when Nicky Martin broke free and fired past Peter Jeffries, but Bishops hit top form and went 3-1 up when Dan Hawkins scored a 30-yarder from another Johnson pass.
Harwood created the fourth for Megran, then Hawkins got the fifth with 8 minutes left.
Megran completed his hat-trick with 4 minutes left. Stephen Flockett scored a late consolation.
Bishop Auckland manager Colin Myers said: “We took them apart in the first half. Our passing was spot on, and it all came together. Performance-wise we were excellent.”
Billingham Town manager Carl Jarrett said: “I thought we were never in the game. A different team turned up yet again. Fair play to Bishops.”
Shildon overcame their injury problems to beat second-bottom Penrith 4-1.
Chris Hughes put them in the lead from the penalty spot after a foul on Ben Wood, then Jamie Owens got the second from a corner.
Just on half-time, Owens provided the pass for Wood to make it three, and they got their fourth when Ben Wood broke clear and set up Robbie Briggs to score from a few yards. Andrew Murray-Jones scored a late consolation for Penrith.
Shildon manager Gary Forrest said: “It was a good solid performance. Everyone put a shift in, and the only thing I was disappointed in, was that we conceded a goal right at the end.”
Dunston are now eighth after they won 3-0 at Hebburn Town.
They took the lead after 41 minutes when Andy Bulford scored from a Lee McAndrew cross, and on the hour-mark Dale Burrell turned the ball home after a Lewis Teasdale mishit his shot.
Darlington target Terry Galbraith scored the third from the spot with 4 minutes left following a foul on Bulford.
Hebburn manager Paul Bennett said: “It was another disappointing afternoon, but we will regroup and dig deep. We have to show the right character and team spirit to get through the sticky spell we are in. No panic but we have to dig deep and scrap three points from our next game.”
Dunston manager Billy Irwin said: “It was a very good performance after a shaky start.”
At the bottom, Newton Aycliffe’s recent good run came to an end when they were beaten 5-1 at Guisborough Town.
Lewis Wood gave Guisborough the lead from a Luke Bythway and Mikey Roberts combination, then Gary Wood scored the second from close range.
Thomas Hinchley headed Aycliffe back into the game, but former Aycliffe player Jamie Poole volleyed Guisborough into a 3-1 lead from the edge of the box.
Roberts made it 4-1 when broke clear and rounded Scott Pocklington, and then in stoppage time Roberts dribbled through and set up Austin Johnston for an easy tap in.
Guisborough manager Chris Hardy said: “I said before the game this is a fixture that we should be taking all three points from and to fair to the lads they went about their business in an excellent manner. Our goalkeeper had a couple of critical saves to pull off early on and once we got past that we didn't really look back, on another day we could easy have scored 7/8, a very pleasing home win.”
Newton Aycliffe manager Allan Oliver said: “Our inexperience showed after the first 20 minutes and the third goal killed us. We weren’t at the races.”
Marske United continued their climb towards safety with a 2-1 home win over Newcastle Benfield.
The visitors took the lead through Nicky Deverdics from a Sam Norris assist, but Marske levelled on 78 minutes when Jordan Hugill scored direct from a free-kick.
It could have gone either way in the closing minutes. Benfield’s recent signing, Steven Brown, saw a penalty saved by Marske keeper Olly West, before Lev Yalcin scored a spectacular winner from 35 yards.
Marske manager Ted Watts said: “We got there in the end, but we made hard work of it, It was a screamer from Lev that won it.”
Two First Division games were abandoned because of fog at half-time. Billingham Synthonia and Sunderland RCA were goalless, while Ashington were 3-1 up at Norton & Stockton Ancients.
Most of the leading Second Division teams won on Saturday.
Leaders Ryhope CW scored three times in the first half to beat Brandon United 3-0.
They took the lead with a 15th minute penalty by Johnny Butler - his twenty-seventh league goal of the season - then Nathan Johnson headed the second. Recent signing Lee McMahon fired the third on 35 minutes.
Ryhope CW manager Martin Swales said: “I thought we worked hard and passed the ball well against a very hard working Brandon team. We were very comfortable at half-time 3-0 up and could have scored more. Their keeper, Ryan Graham, had a blinder.”
Second-placed Northallerton Town had a good 4-1 away win at West Allotment Celtic.
They took the lead when Adam Emson and Wayne Gredziak combined for Carl Chillingsworth to score, then Emson fired across the keeper for the second.
Chillingsworth scored at the second attempt to make it 3-0, then Emson chipped the keeper for the fourth. Allotment scored a late consolation through Sean Reid right at the end.
Northallerton manager Mark Fanning said: “It was a good win, because West Allotment have been going well recently. We played some very good football during the game, and it was a good three points.”
West Allotment manager Paul Stoneman said: “I was really disappointed. There was nothing in the game yet we lost 4-1. We conceded soft goals and missed several good chances at the other end. We must tighten up.”
Crook Town are level on points with Northallerton after beating Whitehaven 4-1.
Crook keeper Barry Poskett saved an early penalty by Whitehaven’s Matty Tymon and then blocked the follow up, but he had no chance when Tymon fired the Cumbrians into the lead.
Robbie Bird levelled for Crook before half-time, and then in the last 10 minutes, Kyle Davis, who shrugged off a stomach bug before the game, held off a defender and fired past the keeper to put Crook into the lead. Crook made sure of the points when Craig Price fired in from the edge of the area.
Crook manager Gary Pearson said: “It was my favourite win of the season. We played some very good football.”
Seaham Red Star returned to form with a 6-0 home win over Stokesley SC.
Paul Kane (2), Craig Malley, Channon North, Richard Stubbs and Kris Goss the scorers.
Seaham manager Mark Collingwood said: “We were lethargic in the first half but we upped the tempo in the second period and were deserved winners.”
Stokesley assistant-manager Chris Lax said: “It was yet another game where we failed to take our chances. We made individual errors and proved very costly in the end.”
Jarrow Roofing are just outside the top three after inflicting a rare away defeat on Tow Law Town by 3-0, Dan Smart scoring all three goals.
Tow Law manager Gary Anderson said: “We turned up for the first 25 minutes, made a mistake and then self-destructed. We didn’t compete after that.”
Jarrow Roofing manager Richie McLoughlin said: “A fair game with both sides working hard. “
Darlington RA slipped further down the table to seventh after they were beaten 1-0 at home by Washington, Lee Hamilton scoring with a header in the first half.
Darlington RA manager Nick Harrison said: “I don’t know how we lost - we’re struggling to score at the moment.”
Morpeth Town have still lost only one league game this season, and they won 3-0 at Birtley Town, thanks to a hat-trick by Micky Chilton.
Birtley manager Scott Oliver said: “A harsh penalty right on half-time killed us. We looked tired second half and picked up even more key injuries to key players. Two totally different halves.”
Thornaby stunned Esh Winning with a 5-0 win at Waterhouses - their best win of the season by some distance.
Gary Mitchell (2), Paul Callan, Rocky Andrews and Liam O’Mahoney scored their goals.
Esh Winning manager Andrew Soppitt said: “I thought we were well beaten and fully deserved the hammering.”
Horden CW are stuck in second bottom after they were beaten 3-1 at home by Ryton & Crawcrook Albion.
Jack Pounder gave Horden the lead, but Ryton, who have been steadily improving, fought back and won through Robert Ruddick (2) and Brian Dodsworth.
Horden manager Peter Mulcaster said: “I’m disgusted with the second half performance. We have the best squad this club has had for a long time but we are not clicking as a unit. I have to look at individuals and see why we are losing to teams with the quality we have.”
Credit: Ray Simpson