West Auckland Town ended the twenty-one-match unbeaten run of league leaders Morpeth Town when they beat them 3-2 on Saturday – and manager Gary Forrest gave the game top marks for entertainment.
West were behind 2-1 at one stage, but they came roaring back with one of their best displays of the season to clinch the points.
Forrest said; “It was a good win and a great game of football. Why people pay good money to watch some of the rubbish Sunderland and Newcastle dish up instead of the local non-league sides is totally beyond me.”
Curtis Coppen headed in a free-kick on 17 minutes to put Morpeth into the lead, but West equalised through Nathan Fisher from an Adam Mitchell pass, his 26th league goal of the season.
West went in front on 35 minutes when Dan Parker headed in a right-wing corner from Mitchell, but Chris Reid levelled for Morpeth with another header.
However, Mitchell and Fisher combined nicely and set up Amar Purewal to score the winner before half time.
Shildon couldn’t capitalise on Morpeth’s slip because they were beaten by two early goals in a 2-1 away defeat at Newton Aycliffe.
Jordan Roberts and Ben Trotter fired Aycliffe 2-0 up inside the first 15 minutes, but Shildon could only pull one back through Billy Greulich-Smith halfway through the second half.
Aycliffe are now unbeaten in their last eight league matches and are eleven points off the relegation zone.
Newton Aycliffe manager Deano Browne said; “We started like a house on fire and dominated the first 20 minutes and deserved to be 2-0 up. The goals were of a really high standard.
“Shildon were the better side for the rest of the game and we were hanging on once they made it 2-1. The hard work we put in when the games were off and twice a week at training paid off. It was a great three points and we’re now eight games unbeaten.”
Shildon manager Danny Moore said; “The first 15 minutes of the game costs us in the end. We were unlucky not to get something from the game.”
In the Second Division, leaders Northallerton Town salvaged an amazing 6-6 draw against bottom club Alnwick Town by scoring twice in the last 10 minutes.
Northallerton, who are now only three points ahead at the top had also been 3-1 down at one stage with big question marks over their defence.
Liam Jarvie, Shaun Hudson, Aaron Ramsbottom (2), Colin Anderson and Stephen Jackson scored their goals.
Tow Law Town struggled to a 2-2 draw at home to Ryton & Crawcrook Albion to leave them in fifth place.
Lewis Brown gave them a half time lead, but Ryton hit back to lead 2-1, before Simon Ord equalised in the 2nd minute of stoppage time.
Tow Law manager Steve Murray said; “I’ve never been involved in such a one-sided game that we should have lost, all for a 94th minute scramble. We cannot miss the chances that we create and gifting goals with loose back passes and expect to pick up points.”
Lawyers dropped to fifth, because Blyth AFC, Whickham and Hebburn all won, and they are now three points below the top three.
Crook Town collapsed in the second half against second-placed Blyth at Millfield, after leading with a David Paul goal on 34 minutes.
Crook manager Chris Lax said; “We’re disappointed with the result against for me the best team in the league. After going one up just before half time we couldn’t hold out until the break. I couldn’t fault my players as they never gave up.”
Esh Winning lost 4-3 to promotion-chasing Billingham Town after leading 3-2 at one point with goals by Kai Hewitson (2) and Matthew Allison.
Manager Tony Boakes was less than happy with the officials, and said; “It was a great effort from us. We were 2-0 down after 10 minutes then led 3-2 in the second half. We were bitterly disgusted by the officials costing us a point in the end. Overall, I was happy with the performance but that’s two games in a row that the officials have cost us points, not the eleven players on the pitch.”
Chester-le-Street came from behind to win 2-1 at promotion-chasing Thornaby, Michael Hepplewhite scoring twice from the penalty spot.
Manager Colin Wake said; “It was an excellent team performance, full of grit and determination. It was a real hard battle on a heavy pitch but we matched them around the park and came away with a thoroughly deserved win. It was a good performance and a good result.”
Willington are still unbeaten in the league since mid-October, a run of ten games, following their 0-0 away draw at Jarrow.
Willington manager Rob Lee said; “It was a game of few chances. There were three very good saves from the Jarrow keeper in the first half, but overall I think a draw was a fair result.”
Brandon United are still two points above the drop zone after going down 2-0 at Hebburn, and manager Steve Skinner said; “Two poor goals cost us the game. We both had plenty of chances and neither team could take them apart from two mistakes. There wasn’t a great difference between the teams for me apart from that consistency week in and week out, but credit to them, they took advantage of the mistakes and won.
“In three weeks, we have still come a long way.”
Darlington RA failed to take their chances when they went down 3-2 at home to West Allotment Celtic, to leave them in the bottom two.
Manager Paul Edwards said; “Probably the same as all season. We didn’t get what we deserved. West were the better side in the first half, but we dominated in the second half. We need to take our chances, but more importantly stop conceding.”
The RA were 2-0 down before Mark Sims pulled a goal back, and 3-1 down before he scored another midway through the second half.