IT wasn’t a good day at the office for Sunderland RCA manager Neil Hixon, who endured a six-goal mauling by Ashington in the EBAC Northern League First Division game at Meadow Park.
With just two points separating the sides before kick-off, the result was totally unexpected but it was all over for the Wearsiders inside 35 minutes.
From the moment Marc Walton opened the scoring, it was one-way traffic and the goals just kept coming and coming from Glen Taylor, Mark O’Dea, Paul Antony and Andrew Johnson.
There was almost a 20-minute respite for RCA before Taylor struck again. It was indicative of RCA’s defensive frailties that he was unmarked to head past the helpless Neal Atkinson.
If it’s any consolation for Hixon, Penrith fared even more disastrously at Whitley Bay where they conceded eight goals – but at least they managed three in reply from Andrew Murray-Jones and Scott Allison (2).
Substitute Paul Chow rifled a hat-trick with Lee Kerr, Ash Davis, James Fairley, Brad Brooking and Lee Paul Scroggins all beating Penrith goalkeeper Johnny Jamieson, who at least saved a penalty from Kerr.
For most of the season, Darlington 1883 have looked unstoppable in their bid for the championship and promotion but they suffered a rare setback at West Auckland, who claimed victory with a dramatic stoppage-time penalty by John Campbell.
A turning point came on 55 minutes when the Quakers had Darren Richardson red-carded but they were still strong enough to take the lead with a Stephen Thompson spot-kick.
Stuart Banks equalised on 75 minutes before West’s supporters, in a crowd of 502, went wild as Campbell kept his cool, converting the 92nd-minute penalty.
Spennymoor Town are now only four points off the top with two games in hand on Darlington but Jason Ainsley’s side were taken to the wire at Marske United where they played for 50 minutes with 10 men following the dismissal of Lewis Dodds.
Twice behind to David Yale and Karl Charlton, Moors just edged the points thanks to Gavin Cogden (2) and Michael Laws.
Bedlington Terriers remain third despite losing at Consett for who Scott Martindale scored the only goal.
At the other end of the table, Durham City moved further away from the relegation zone with an excellent performance and result against Hebburn Town who would have gone sixth had they won.
Connor Winter and Gary Shaw each bagged a brace of goals with Kallum Charlton and Dan Madden (og) the Hebburn marksmen.
South Shields scored first through Sean Sweeney at Billingham Synthonia who won at a canter thanks to Nathan Wilson (pen), Jamie Blyth, Nathan Jameson and Danny Newby. The Mariners remain bottom, six points from safety.