.....Sunderland Ryhope CW 5-2 in their top of the table clash on Saturday.
Striker Warren Byrne was man of the match with a hat-trick, but Ryhope were furious about a penalty awarded to Crook, although Ryhope themselves missed two spot kicks.
Crook manager Gary Pearson said: “I thought we were more organised than them, and knew how to contain them. We had a game plan, and stuck to it. But even though we’ve beaten Ryhope twice now, and have a game in hand to go top, we’re not getting carried away.”
Crook keeper Barry Poskett gave his side an early boost when he saved a penalty by Johnny Butler, and within seconds they took the lead when Crook swept straight up the other end and Byrne tucked the ball in.
Byrne was in the right place again to make it 2-0 from another good move, but when Ryhope were awarded a second penalty, Lee McMahon missed the target.
Chris Pearson successfully converted a hotly disputed penalty before half-time, but at the start of the second half, Ryhope hit back with goals by Johnny Butler and Greg Swansbury.
But Byrne caught Ryhope pushing forward for an equaliser to make it 4-2, and Craig Hughes got the fifth. Crook are now two points behind Ryhope with a game in hand.
Ryhope manager Martin Swales said: “I thought the two missed penalties cost us the game, but I thought Crook played well. They’re a big strong powerful side who will be in the first division next season. I don’t want this to sound like sour grapes, but I thought the ref spoilt a good game for both sides.”
In the First Division, two goals from Amar Purewal against his former club helped Darlington 1883 to get back on track with a 4-0 win against Durham City.
The club’s leading scorer netted twice in the second half as Quakers recorded a much-needed win to extend their lead at the top of the table to seven points over second-placed Spennymoor Town.
A Terry Galbraith penalty had given Martin Gray’s men a first-half lead before goals from Purewal, who took his seasonal tally to fourteen, and David Dowson secured a comfortable win.
Bishop Auckland striker Andy Johnson was back to his best when he scored a hat-trick in a 5-1 away win at Sunderland RCA. He’s now got thirteen league goals for the season.
Johnson got his first when Kieran Megran rounded the RCA keeper and set him up for an easy tap in, then he got the second from the spot on the half hour after he was brought down.
Aristote Guerin-Lokonga pulled a goal back for RCA with a header, but Johnson turned provider and set up Kieran Megran at the other end for the third.
He completed his hat-trick on the hour at the second attempt, and then Dale Jardine, who was with RCA earlier in the season, scored another from the spot. Bishops are now up to fourth.
Bishop Auckland manager Colin Myers said: “Considering the way the pitch cut up, I thought we passed the ball around very well. Andy certainly had his shooting boots on.”
Sunderland RCA manager Neil Hixon said: “Losing 3-1 at half time and we were the better team. In the second half, Bishops battered us, we need to defend as a team a lot better.”
West Auckland Town remain third in the table thanks to a 3-1 away win at Celtic Nation, all of their goals created by John Campbell.
Campbell crossed from the right for Stuart Banks to score, but Craig Wilson levelled from the spot for CN, beating West keeper Chris Mullin.
But then Campbell popped up on the left and set up Banks to head West back into the lead on 50 minutes, and 2 minutes from the end, Campbell set up Mattie Moffat to hit the third.
West Auckland manager Peter Dixon said: “Considering that we only had twelve players, full credit to them all.”
Celtic Nation manager Steve Skinner said: “I haven’t got words to say about Saturday’s game apart from there will be changes and some need to look at themselves.”
Whitley Bay had a much harder game than on their last visit to Norton & Stockton Ancients, having to work hard for a 3-1 win.
Brad Brooking put Whitley into an early lead from an Ian Watson pass, and they went 2-0 up when Ash Davis fired home from the edge of the area.
Dale Mulligan pulled a goal back with a header, but Davis scored the third from the spot in the dying minutes to put Whitley fifth and leave Norton second bottom.
Norton manager Andy Campbell said: “It was a great chance to get some points on the board, but if we defend like this, we are going to struggle.”
Whitley Bay manager Ian Chandler said: “A good three points against a much improved Norton. They made us work very hard for the win. Ash Davis made a great impact, scoring two late in the game.”
Dunston UTS conceded their first goal in ten games at Newcastle Benfield but they still won 2-1, thanks to a last minute goal.
They took the lead with a header by Micky Dixon from a corner, and Benfield seemed to have salvaged a point when Stephen Young scored from a Nicky Deverdics assist.
But in stoppage time, midfielder Stephen Shaw fired the winner for Dunston to put them seventh.
Newcastle Benfield manager Anthony Woodhouse said: “Once again it was a very disappointing result. It was a great performance from the players. We could have won but a draw was a fair result. We certainly did not deserve to lose.”
Marske United had an excellent 3-1 home win over Bedlington Terriers at Mount Pleasant.
It was a great second half for Marske, because they trailed to an own goal by Michael Morris in the first half, and could have been further behind.
But a couple of changes at half-time worked wonders for Marske. Adam Wheatley levelled from close range just after half-time, then David Onions charged down a clearance and beat Bedlington keeper Jonathan Ball. Marske made sure of the points when youngster Lewis Tidy scored from the edge of the box.
Marske manager Ted Watts said: “We had a slow start, but we tweaked things and had a gee up at half time. We played very well in the second half and deserved the win.”
Newton Aycliffe continued their escape away from the relegation zone when they won 3-1 at fourth bottom Penrith.
Stephen Rigg gave Penrith an early lead, but Aycliffe recovered after half time when Danny Earl chased a long clearance by Scott Pocklington and fired past the Penrith keeper.
Earl got another from the loose ball after Danny Lambert’s shot was blocked, and former Darlington player Lambert wrapped up the points when he hit a 30 yarder into the top corner for the goal of the game. Aycliffe are now sixth from bottom.
Newton Aycliffe manager Allan Oliver said: “We were second best for most of the first half, but at half time we put an extra forward on, and that made a big difference. We have another massive game against them on Wednesday.”
Ashington drew 1-1 with Hebburn Town at Woodhorn Lane. Ashington took the lead when Marc Walton scored from the rebound after Darren Lough hit the post – his eighteenth goal of the season – and after chances galore for both teams, Dan Kirkup levelled for Hebburn from a left wing cross by Stuart Nicholson on 73 minutes.
Hebburn manager Paul Bennett said: “A game where beforehand a point is a good result but on reflection we possibly shaded the game. We weathered the first 15 minutes and from there dominated the game. My players deserve a lot of credit for their workrate, togetherness and quality that they displayed today.”
Ashington assistant-manager Perry Briggs said: “It was a disappointing performance, much different from last week in the Vase. A stupid mistake cost us a goal.”
In the other Second Division games, ten-man Northallerton Town drew 2-2 with Tow Law Town at Ainderby Road and dropped out of the top three.
Lawyers took the lead when Anthony Lee flicked home a right wing cross, but Carl Chillingsworth fired the equaliser for Northallerton.
Lawyers regained the lead through a Scott Brassell penalty following a foul, and they had a man advantage when Wayne Gredziak was dismissed for swearing at an assistant referee. But they rolled their sleeves up and levelled thanks to a Danny Shoulder penalty.
Lawyers have lost only twice away from home this season, but have yet to win at home.
Northallerton manager Mark Fanning said: “We had most of the chances with ten men, but we can’t afford to keep dropping points.”
Tow Law manager Gary Anderson said: “I was happy with the draw on a very wet and muddy pitch, but could have and probably should have taken three points.”
Seaham Red Star leap-frogged over Northallerton into third after winning 2-1 at Chester-le-Street.
Channon North put Seaham into the lead after 8 minutes, with Mattie Morris levelled for Chester after 20 minutes. But Alan Pegram got the winner for Chester on the hour-mark.
Seaham manager Mark Collingwood said: “It was a great win. We were sloppy with our passing in the first half but we bossed the second half and deserved the win. My only disappointment was that we didn’t win by a bigger margin.”
Chester-le-Street manager Colin Wake said: “We gave away two poor goals, and at any level you can’t defend like we did and expect us to get anything from the game. Poor choices in final third meant we didn’t create as much as we should have for the amount of good possession that we had.”
Darlington RA revived their promotion challenge by winning 4-0 at West Allotment Celtic, with Steve Allison, who recently returned to the club after a brief spell at South Shields, scoring a hat trick.
But it was Dale Elgie who set them on their way with a terrific 40 yarder into the top corner, then Allison rounded the keeper for the second.
He headed the third from a corner, and he completed his hat trick when he was sent through and rounded the keeper.
Darlington RA manager Nick Harrison said: “Steve’s return has made a big difference to us.”
West Allotment manager Paul Stoneman said: “We were reasonably comfortable for an hour at 0-0 but we were punished for missing several easy chances. When they scored we gave up. I’m really disappointed – there will be changes.”
The 1-1 draw between Whitehaven and North Shields certainly helped the teams above them. North Shields took the lead after just 5 minutes when Dean Holmes scored, and they held on until stoppage time when Greg Quayle levelled for Whitehaven.
Horden CW are still stuck in the bottom two after they were beaten 5-2 at Washington.
Lee Hamilton put Washington into the lead from a rebound after 15 minutes, but Horden levelled thanks to a volley by Darren Atkinson. Mark Patterson fired into the top corner and put Washington into the lead just on half time, and soon after the break, Mark Covell and Patterson made it 4-1. Chris Burton pulled a goal back for Horden, but Hamilton headed in a cross by Jake Leighton for the fifth.
Washington manager Richie Latimer said: “It was a good solid performance and should have been more, but to score five in any game, we will take that.”
Horden manager Peter Mulcaster said: “We keep shooting ourselves in the foot. We missed chances and gave stupid goals away.”
Bottom club Alnwick put the pressure on second bottom Horden by winning 3-2 at Thornaby, who had two men sent-off.
Richie Walker put Thornaby ahead after 15 minutes, but soon after they had Liam O’Mahoney dismissed for swearing.
Alnwick scored three times in the second half through Tony Brown, Tom Vickers and Jon Colley but even though they also had Sean Joseph dismissed, Thornaby pulled another back through Gary Mitchell.
Stokesley SC are still fifth bottom after they lost 3-2 at Ryton & Crawcrook Albion.
The home side took a two-goal lead through Paul King and Mark Waite, but Stokesley came back early in the second half through Lee Butterworth.
Ryton went 3-1 up through Mark Nicholson, but Stokesley pulled another goal back through Adam Foley from the spot.
Stokesley assistant-manager Chris Lax said: “I thought we deserved a point. We had lots of possession but failed to make this count and in this league we must make this happen and stop conceding goals.”
Birtley Town and Whickham drew 2-2 in their local derby. Matt Hornsby and Dan Smith scored for Birtley after Sam McIntosh and Scott Swanson put Whickham in the lead.
Birtley manager Scott Oliver said: “A little bit disappointed that we didn’t win. We are starting to create more chances in games. We showed great desire to win the ball back today, but it’s a long road ahead though.”
Four games were postponed, at Consett, South Shields, Brandon and Jarrow Roofing.
Credit: Ray Simpson