Bishop Auckland couldn’t stop runaway Ebac Northern League First Division leaders North Shields opening up a seventeen-point gap at the top of the table when they were beaten 2-0 at Heritage Park on Saturday.
Bishops had their opportunities to score, but couldn’t beat Shields keeper Kyle Hayes, and instead Shields recorded their fifteenth successive league win.
South Shields have five games in hand on North Shields, with the two clubs due to meet on 8th April in what looks like a title decider.
Bishops manager Steve Riley said; “We’re disappointed not to get something from the game. In a game of few chances Shields took their two and their keeper pulled off great saves when we had opportunities.
“There was very little between the sides but Shields managed to get the breaks and we didn’t which was the difference. And usually when a team is riding high you get those breaks. If we show the same attitude in the remaining games then we will get those breaks.
“But good luck to North Shields, they were well organised and have had a great season.”
Shields took the lead after 15 minutes when Dan Wilson held off two defenders and fired past Bishops keeper Tom Dawson, but Bishops nearly levelled with a shot by Priestley Griffiths that went just wide.
Both sides missed chances before Shields got their second, when Luke Carr scored from Craig MacFarlane’s cross.
Andy Johnson nearly pulled a goal back, but he was denied by a great save from Shields keeper Kyle Hayes.
Shields manager Jon McDonald said; “I was pleased with the chances we carved out. It was another clean sheet and three points. We have momentum. I’m delighted with the application of the players.”
Shildon kept up their pursuit of the top two by beating Seaham Red Star 2-0 at Dean Street, and Boro bound Lewis Wing was yet again in the thick of the action.
After Micky Rae and player-manager Bobbby Moore were just off target, Shildon took the lead when Amar Purewal scored from a Wing pass, then Wing scored his 23rd league goal of the season, with a trademark free-kick a few yards outside the box.
Seaham forced Shildon keeper Nick Liversedge into a two good saves in the second half, while Micky Rae and David Vincent nearly added a third.
Seaham manager Chris McCabe said; “I was very disappointed after today, the real problem for us at the moment is we don’t take chances. First half today we missed four or five gilt-edged chances. Shildon had two and took them both, from then on we were chasing the game. We now have a run of three home games and hopefully we will finish the season positively.”
Shildon manager Bobby Moore said; “I was happy with the three points and a clean sheet before our semi-final against South Shields on Wednesday.”
Morpeth Town are fourth after hammering West Allotment Celtic 8-0 at Craik Park.
They scored three times in 7 first half minutes, with goals by Sean Taylor, Keith Graydon penalty and Ben Sayer, and in the second half Allotment caved in, conceding five more in the last 17 minutes.
Michael Chilton scored a hat-trick, with Taylor and sub Mark Davison adding further goals.
Morpeth have now scored 66 goals at home this season.
Morpeth manager Nick Gray said; “Great win and clean sheet for the lads.”
West Allotment manager Paul Stoneman said; “We were short of key players. No excuses though, well done to Morpeth, they deserved to win although the scoreline was a little harsh on us. The 17 year old twins did well for us in difficult circumstances.”
Stoneman’s twin sons, Paul and Joel, were both in the team.
Newton Aycliffe had their keeper Phil Pentony to thank for a point at Sunderland RCA.
Pentony pulled off several good saves, while the RCA also hit the woodwork through James Cassidy.
Newton Aycliffe joint-manager Deano Browne said; “We defended really well for 90 minutes. RCA were the better side and dealt with the conditions better. We missed two chances to maybe take all three points, but our keeper kept us in it and was man of the match.”
Sunderland RCA manager Marty Swales said; “We had one disallowed goal, three penalty appeals, hit the bar three times. Ho we haven’t won the game I don’t know. Aycliffe need to put the lottery on.!”
At the other end of the table, West Auckland Town are in danger of being sucked back into the relegation fight after losing 4-2 at home to Guisborough Town.
West are now eight points above the bottom three.
Guisborough took the lead after 7 minutes with a deflected shot by Louis Goldsack, and 7 minutes before half-time they gained some breathing space when Steve Roberts got away and beat Lewis Graham.
West then had Graham dismissed for handling outside the area, but they still pulled a goal back with a Craig Ruddy penalty for a foul on Zak Boagey.
However, Guisborough were themselves awarded a penalty that David Onions converted for 3-1, but Kerry Hedley pulled a goal back from a Ross Gardner free-kick.
Guisborough recovered, and went 4-2 up when Steve Roberts cut in and fired under West replacement keeper Gareth Shaw.
Guisborough are now third bottom, which could yet be enough to avoid relegation if South Shields take promotion at the other end of the table.
West Auckland manager Steve Skinner said; “We were terrible, we’re just not good enough. We’re in a fight to the end of the season, and we’re in a group of five fighting until the last game of the season.”
Guisborough manager Gary Forster said; “We’re really pleased, and there were some really good performances. The lads needed that, and hopefully we can build on that performance.
“I think it will be very difficult to escape relegation still, but until it is mathematically impossible we will give it our best shot.”
Chester-le-Street still only have one home league win to their credit this season after they were beaten 3-1 at home by Consett.
The visitors took the lead when Jordan Lavery set up Luke Sullivan to score his 26th league goal of the season, but Chester levelled through Joe Hailes from a corner.
Consett took the lead when Jordan Nellis broke away and scored, and Chester had loud handball appeals turned down when Matty Slocombe headed the third.
Chester-le-Street manager Colin Wake said; “We battled hard to stay in the game but conceded a sloppy second goal and a deliberate handball for the third and clinching goal. It summed up the officials’ performance to be honest. Consett are a physical side and the ref allowed far too many things to go that were obvious offences. Overall I was pleased with the endeavour but not with the quality in the second half.”
Consett manager Mark Eccles said; “the lads played well and deserved all three points. We didn’t start playing until 20 minutes into the first half but began to dominate a stubborn well-organised Chester, We took control early in the second half but pinned them in their half kicking down the hill and took a 2-1 lead, and we got a controversial third to make it more comfortable.”
Newcastle Benfield were also amongst the goals when they beat Washington 6-1.
Paul Brayson (below) scored twice in the first 15 minutes to put Benfield 2-0 up and give him 36 league goals for the season, then John Campbell put a free-kick into the net.
Scott McCarthy scored from a rebound for 4-0.
Washington pulled a goal back through Alex White, but Campbell made it 5-1, and 16 year old Matty Parker scored the sixth.
Jarrow Roofing recorded one of the highest scoring away wins of the season in the league when they thumped Penrith 7-0 – their fourth straight win.
Dennis Knight and Chris Winn ran riot in the first half, as Roofing built a five-goal lead.
Winn scored a hat-trick, with Knight scoring two and assisting the other three.
Penrith had a man sent-off which didn’t help them in the second half when Knight completed his hat-trick and Michael Mackay got another.
Jarrow Roofing manager Richie McLoughlin said; “To go to Penrith and win 7-0 is a big buzz for me as Penrith are a good side who work hard and play well. But today we were top notch and won with ease.”
Dunston UTS drew 1-1 with Ashington at the UTS stadium.
Dale Burrell put Dunston into the lead after Liam Thear’s shot was saved, but Wayne Buchanan levelled for Ashington with a header.
In the Second Division, Team Northumbria took a firm grip on the leadership when they beat promotion rivals Billingham Synthonia 2-1 at Central Avenue.
Synners were up against it when defender John Seaton was dismissed after just 12 minutes for handling on the line, and Ben Dibb-Fuller scored from the spot.
Synners had their chances to equalise, but Dibb-Fuller fired the second midway through the second half.
Synners pulled a goal back when Nathan Mulligan crossed for sub Nathan Steel to head in.
On Friday night, Stockton Town went into second, thanks to a last-minute winner by Alan Cosavella at Thornaby – one of his old clubs.
Stockton manager Micky Dunwell said; “We fully deserved the win, we kept going right up to the end and it paid off. This group of players never gives up and it stands us in good stead for the run in especially with others around us dropping points.”
Fourth-placed Billingham Town’s chances suffered a blow when they lost 3-2 at Bedlington Terriers.
The home side led 2-0 at half-time with two goals by Lee Scott, and at the start of the second half Sam Norris got the third.
Town launched a fightback and scored twice in 3 minutes through Craig Hutchinson, but they couldn’t force an equaliser.
They are now nine points adrift of third-placed Synners with two games in hand.
Blyth Town’s hops of pushing into the promotion reckoning were dashed when they were beaten 2-0 at home by Whickham, for whom Mark Fitzpatrick scored twice.
Heaton Stannington are making a late run for the top three, and they are now won their last seven after they beat Brandon United 4-1, with goals by Jonathan Wright, Lee Johnson, Shane Jones and Gary Yates.
Brandon’s reply came from Luke Thompson.
Darlington RA are now fourth-bottom, courtesy of an excellent 5-4 away win at Durham City, Paul New scoring the winner with just a few seconds left of stoppage time.
The RA were behind three times. Durham took the lead with an own goal, but Paul Tarn and Dan Flounders put the RA in front.
Brad Hird scored twice for Durham to make it 3-2, but Glenn Donaldson hit back.
Durham, who had Andrew Brown dismissed at 3-3, went back in front again through Craig Hennis, but Donaldson equalised and New got the winner.
Darlington RA manager Peter Mulcaster said; “It was a brilliant result, coming from behind three times. I have to say I’m very pleased with the players’ response over the last four weeks.”
The RA are just a point behind Willington, who were beaten 3-0 at Hebburn Town, for whom Jason Blackburn (2) and Adam Rundle scored.
Willington manager Rob Lee said; “Three mistakes cost us the game. We are being punished for our mistakes at present. It wasn’t a 3-0 game, so we’re disappointed.”
Bottom club Esh Winning were within 3 minutes of a valuable win at Easington Colliery, but they were pegged back to a 2-2 draw.
Max Stoker put Esh into the lead, only for that goal to be cancelled out by Liam Anderson.
Callum Boakes restored the Esh lead, but Michael Bulmer levelled near the end.
Esh Winning manager Tony Boakes said; “We were pleased to get a point today. We were unlucky not to get all three, because we were caught from a corner with two minutes left, but overall another good team performance.”
Northallerton Town returned from their longest trip of the season to Alnwick Town with a 5-2 win.
Sam Walton gave Alnwick an early lead, but Northallerton hit back with goals by Nicky Martin (2) and Shaun Hudson.
Sammy Perez pulled a goal back for Alnwick, but Martin completed his hat-trick and Elliott McGlade added another.