RYHOPE remained in touching distance of the Ebac Northern League Second Division title with a narrow win at Brandon United.
Stephen Moody was an early marksman for Brandon and after Chris Trewick levelled on 39 minutes, Ben Riding headed in the winner 10 minutes from time.
Ryhope are now five points behind Crook with two games in hand and a significantly better goal difference.
Crook, though, sealed promotion on Saturday. The Millfield men celebrated at Whitehaven, who were first to score through David Dustin before Robbie Bird bagged a brace of goals.
Jarrow Roofing stay third, 10 points adrift of Martin Swales’ Ryhope side with both teams having played the same number of games. An only goal by Liam McBryde earned Roofing three crucial points at Tow Law Town.
At the bottom, there’s still no respite for Horden CW who, with only five games to play, are 12 points from safety. The Colliers were by far the better side but still lost at Ryton and Crawcrook Albion for whom Lawrence McKenna scored the only goal.
Alnwick Town also have a lot to do if they are to avoid relegation. Their latest defeat came at Chester -le-Street who went ahead after just four minutes with a David Shaw penalty. Midway through the second half, Mattie Morris headed in the Cestrians’ second goal.
Washington trailed Darlington RA to strikes by Jordan Hanratty and Stephen Allison before Ross Atkinson scored their only goal inthe 89th minute while Birtley Town produced a good performance in a goal-less draw at Morpeth Town, whose hopes of promotion took another setback.
Seaham Red Star’s aspirations have come to an end after they went down to Stokesley SC for whom Jordan Moore scored the only goal in the first minute.
In the first division, a typical end-of-season game at Hebburn Town was decided by just one Durham City goal on 57 minutes. A good move down the right by Stephen Jones ended with Ian Ward heading past goalkeeper Dan Regan.
Sunderland RCA remain too near the relegation trap-door for comfort.
They conceded a goal after just 67 seconds at Ashington as Matthew Grieve headed a corner past Jonathan Ball.
Worse was to follow when, in the 12th minute, Mark O’Dea went past a defender and again gave Ball no chance. Early in the second half, Gary Shaw reduced the deficit with a shot that crept inside the far post but soon afterwards the Colliers restored a two-goal cushion with Paul Antony driving home from 20 yards.
RCA remain eighth from the basement but only three points ahead of Newton Aycliffe who occupy the third relegation place.
Aycliffe gave their chances of avoiding the drop a shot in the arm by defeating Shildon courtesy of Martin Young, Stuart Owen and Paul Broom. Dan Richmond was Shildon’s only marksman.
Marske took championship contenders Spennymoor Town to the wire before going down by the only goal which was scored by Kallum Griffiths on 37 minutes.
At the top, Darlington 1883 eased past West Auckland Town, who shot themselves in the foot by having Mark Stephenson and John Campbell sent off from the field of play while Shaun Vipond, who had been substituted, was red-carded from the dug-out. To compound a miserable afternoon, manager Peter Dixon was sent to the stand.
Terry Galbraith gave Darlington a 17th-minute lead with a free-kick and an hour later, he struck with a tremendous 35-yard effort.
Darlington can take another step towards the First Division championship by defeating Celtic Nation at Heritage Park tonight, but most attention will be focused on the other end of the table with four teams fighting against the drop in action.
Norton and Stockton Ancients will almost certainly go down while visitors Marske are only outside the drop zone by virtue of having a slightly better goal difference than Newton Aycliffe, who are at home to Bedlington Terriers.
Meanwhile, Newcastle Benfield will go above eighth-from-bottom Sunderland RCA if they claim just one point from their home fixture with Whitley Bay.
In Division Two, Washington are at home to West Allotment Celtic.