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Title Race Still Up For Grabs

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Most teams in the Evo-Stik League North have at least four games of the 2017/18 season left to play and there`s still plenty to play for.

Not least the actual title itself, although Hyde United are probably now out of that after being held to a 0-0 draw at Ewen Fields by third-bottom Skelmersdale United, who are now all-but safe.

South Shields remain favourites to take the championship and made it seven games unbeaten to extend their lead at the top of the table to five points, and with a game in hand, after beating seventh-placed Colwyn Bay, who are now five points adrift of the play-off places but still have five games remaining.

Another terrific crowd of 1,535 at Mariners Park saw Gavin Cogdon put the home side ahead after just 4 minutes.

Argentinian Julio Arca doubled that lead 20 minutes later and Darren Lough made it 3-0 with 37 minutes gone on the clock.

Danny Andrews reduced the deficit a minute before the break, but a fourth from Robbie Briggs on 65 minutes confirmed Shields` win.

Scarborough Athletic moved into second spot and matched Shields by winning 4-0 at the Flamingo Land Stadium in front of a great crowd of 1,361 against second-bottom Brighouse Town.

Boro led through Michael Coulson`s 13th minute opener and he eventually doubled that from the penalty spot in the 63rd minute.

James Walshaw made it 3-0 with 9 minutes to go and Jorome Slew added a fourth a minute from time to leave the visitors still in danger of finishing bottom following Goole AFC`s win at Clitheroe.

Although the Vikings have only three games left to Brighouse`s four, they have at least given themselves a shout, albeit a slim one as they trail the second-bottom outfit by seven points.

Declan Howe after 47 minutes and Derry Robson 6 minutes from time were enough for Goole at Shawbridge, despite Kurt Willoughby`s last-gasp spot-kick reply.

Back at the top end of the table, the battle for a place in the play-offs can go, mathematically, right down to twelfth-placed Atherton Collieries, who still have five games to play.

Bamber Bridge, Prescot Cables and Trafford hold the remaining top six spots and are favourites to keep them.

Brig were held to a 1-1 Irongate draw by Lancastrian rivals Colne, who probably required all three points to stay in the race themselves.

They almost got them though as they led through Alex Curran`s 32nd minute opener until the 88th minute when Jamie Milligan pulled the hosts level from the spot.

Prescot were also held to a home draw, 2-2 by Mossley AFC, who led through Mason Duffy and Michael Fish goals until the final two minutes when Harry Cain and then Chris Almond earned Cables a point.

Trafford won 2-1 at Shawe View against Ramsbottom United, thanks to Mark Derbyshire after 52 minutes and Aaron Burns 12 minutes later – all after Jamie Rother had given Rammy a 39th minute lead.

Tadcaster Albion, Glossop North End and Atherton have mathematical hopes of making the top six, but they would need results to significantly go their way.

Taddy`s chances probably went on Saturday in reality after losing 2-1 at home to lowly Radcliffe FC, whose Ben Jago and Louis Mayers overturned Cory Roper`s 13th minute opener for the hosts.

The same could be said for Glossop, who suffered a 3-2 Surrey Street defeat to Ossett Albion, whose Gibraltar international Adam Priestley bagged a brace after Jacob Young had cancelled out Courtney Meppen-Walter`s 3rd minute opener – Lewis Lacey with the Hillmen`s second.

But Colls maintained their outside hopes with a 3-2 win at Ingfield against Ossett Town, thanks to an 87th minute Ben Hardcastle penalty after Adam Farrell`s brace for the visitors and Alex Peterson and Jason Yates goals for the hosts.

The only game with little riding on it apart from finishing positions and pride was at the Butcher`s Arms where Kendal Town sneaked a 1-0 win against Droylsden – Gareth Arnison`s 31st minute spot-kick proving enough for the visitors.

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