Shildon’s hopes of finishing in the top three in the Ebac Northern League First Division on Saturday were dealt a severe blow when they were beaten 4-2 at Newcastle Benfield after leading 2-0 at one stage.
The Railwaymen needed to win to keep the pressure on West Auckland Town, but their late collapse means that West will finish third behind promoted pair Morpeth Town and Marske United, if they win their last game of the season against Ryhope CW on Monday night.
Shildon took the lead when Dan Groves scored from a few yards out, and then Billy Greulich-Smith hit the crossbar but was first to react to the rebound on 11 minutes.
The game turned against Shildon in the last 20 minutes. Jake Orrell scored from a James Martin cross on 71 minutes, and 5 minutes later Paul Brayson scored his 29th league goal of the season from a Rhys Evans cross.
Scott McCarthy made it 3-2 as Shildon wobbled, and then he fired the fourth from the edge of the box.
West Auckland, meanwhile, easily beat Whitley Bay 5-0 to go seven points clear in third.
They took the lead on 20 minutes when Mark Doninger scored from an Anthony Bell free-kick, then Dan Parker made it 2-0 after the keeper blocked Nathan Fisher’s shot.
Jamie Cobain set up Amar Purewal for 3-0 at the start of the second half and soon after Doninger scored his second.
It was all over when Doninger set up Bell to fire the fifth.
West Auckland manager Gary Forrest said; “It was a great win with a great attitude. I was really pleased.”
Bishop Auckland still have relegation fears after they went down 3-1 at Ryhope CW, leaving them fifth-bottom, five points ahead of third-bottom Jarrow Roofing, who have one game in hand.
They got off a great start when Michael Hoganson scored with a free-kick into the bottom corner, but Micky Rae levelled for Ryhope from the edge of the box midway through the half.
Rae then put the home side ahead just on half-time, then with 11 minutes left, James Ellis got the third.
Bishops could be safe tomorrow night, if Roofing lose at home to Newcastle Benfield, and they win at Sunderland RCA.
Newton Aycliffe are safe from relegation after Craig Hutchinson scored a 32nd minute winner against Durham Challenge Cup winners Consett.
Newton Aycliffe manager Deano Browne said; “It was fantastic result for the lads. We wanted to guarantee our own survival and keep it in our hands and we did that. We played an attacking formation and we dominated the first half and should have been further ahead in my opinion. Consett were probably better in the second half but we still continued to create chances, the lads have played a lot of games recently and gave their all for a well-deserved three points.”
Marske took another step towards a second title when they thumped Billingham Symphonia 6-1, which means that they now need ten points from their last six matches, four of which are this week.
Buildbase FA Vase finalists Stockton Town won 2-0 at Penrith, who are a point and a place behind Bishop Auckland.
In the Second Division, Darlington RA are now in the bottom two after they were beaten 1-0 at Brandon United, for whom Jordan Lee scored.
Brandon manager Steve Skinner said; “They were a big three points. It wasn’t the best of games but that was expected. We were very poor first half and lucky to go in at 0-0.
“Second half we improved a bit and were the better team and we got that important goal first. The lads have won two and drawn two with two clean sheets. They have come a long way in a short space of time. I just hope we have enough in the tank to stay in the league.”
Darlington RA assistant manager Mike Colman said; “We started bright and dominated the first half but we couldn’t get the break through. Second half Brandon came out and were the better side. A draw was a fair result, but Brandon got the crucial first goal and that was that.”
At the top, Northallerton Town are now up to third after beating Esh Winning 4-2.
Stephen Cheeseman, Chris Dickinson and Aaron Ramsbottom had them 3-0 up at half time, then Ramsbottom scored the fourth early in the second. Connor Halpin pulled two goals back for Esh.
Northallerton manager Darren Trotter said; “I was really pleased with the win. In the first half the game was won, and we eased up in the second half which is understandable with all the games we’ve played. But we managed the game though for three important points.”
Esh Winning manager Tony Boakes said; “The officials cost us. Two offside goals and a blatant hand ball for three of Northallerton’s goals, one of which we tried to kick the ball out for a Northallerton player to get treatment. They played on when we all stopped – even the linesman stopped.”
The previous third-placed club, Whickham, lost 4-1 at Tow Law Town, who didn’t have a recognised keeper, so defender Glen Caygill went between the posts.
Damon Reaks, Simon Ord and Lewis Teasdale (2) scored for Tow Law, with a Tow Law player putting through his own goal for Whickham’s reply.
Tow Law manager Steve Murray said; “We only had ten players and a centre-half in goal. They put in the best performance of the season!”
Crook Town drew 1-1 with Chester-le-Street at the Millfield.
Andy Clarkson put Chester into the lead after 14 minutes, but Adam Lee-Shield levelled for Crook.
Manager Chris Lax said; “Another point, and that’s one loss in five but if we had been more clinical in front of goal we should have had three points. They had two efforts and scored one which I’m disappointed at. The goal they scored, our keeper should have been more decisive. Four games to go and another six points is the target.”
Chester-le-Street manager Colin Wake said; “We were poor again and very lucky to come away with a draw. Crook played well moving the ball around nicely but struggled in the final third. A third disappointing performance in a row for us with a stretched squad who look tired.”
Durham City, who have submitted a pre-planning application to their local council for a new ground back in the city, lost 1-0 at home to league leaders Blyth AFC.
Durham manager Olly Hotchkiss said; “I was very pleased with the second half performance against the best team in the league. We possibly deserved a point from the game after a very competitive second half. Couldn’t ask for more from my players yet again.”
Willington came back from a goal down to win 3-1 at West Allotment Celtic, with goals by Matty Moffat, Nathan Plews and an own goal.
Willington manager Rob Lee said; “After Thursday’s defeat, I was very pleased with the result after being 1-0 down in the first minute. The lads showed great character and played some good possession football and deserved the three points”.