NEWCASTLE Benfield could live to regret the floodlight failure at Belle Vue Park last night.
With just 12 minutes remaining they led Consett by two goals and just one point would almost certainly have been sufficient to guarantee their safety and consign Sunderland RCA to Ebac Northern League relegation.
The Tynesiders made a dream start in the crucial game when Stephen Young latched onto a poor back pass and buried his shot into the bottom corner of the net after only eight minutes.
Just before the interval, Gareth Williams drove in a 25-yard free kick which took a deflection off the wall and left goalkeeper Peter Jamieson stranded.
Benfield comfortably held a two-goal cushion but disaster struck in the 78th minute and despite the referee allowing time for the fault to be rectified, in the end he abandoned the game.
Sunderland RCA are hanging onto top-flight status by the skin of their teeth after Billingham Town made sure of their survival with victory at Shildon.
Former RCA player Harrison Davies set up Christian Selby for the Teessiders’ opening goal but Billy Greulich Smith soon levelled.
With time running out, Nicky Martin scrambled in a second goal for Billingham and in added time Danny Brunskill was also on target to start the celebrations.
It’s now between RCA and Benfield as to who will accompany Norton and Stockton Ancients and South Shields into Division Two. RCA, with two games to play, trail Benfield by five points with the Tynesiders having three fixtures to fulfil.
Wembley-bound Spennymoor Town whose championship hopes ended at the weekend, lost for only the third time in 40 games when Penrith won a poor match with an only goal from Stephen Rigg.
South Shields succumbed to Hebburn Town in the South Tyneside derby. Following a goalless opening half a long ball out of defence was collected by Stuart Nicholson who rounded goalkeeper James Winter and planted his shot into an empty net after 51 minutes.
With five minutes left on the clock, Scott Robson latched onto a pass 15 yards from goal before picking his spot and giving Winter no chance.
Nathan Porritt, David Abel, Jim Wilson (pen) and Aidan Cattermole were all on the mark for Billingham Synthonia who surprisingly defeated Celtic Nation with ease in Cumbria. The home side’s only reply was credited to Graeme Anthony.
In Division Two, second-top Ryhope CW held fourth-placed Morpeth Town to a draw with Martin Swales’ side recovering from a two-goal deficit.
Michael Chilton and Paul Dunn had the visitors comfortably ahead by the hour but in the last 15 minutes Michael Charlton and Jack Pounder responded.
Jarrow Roofing nudged ahead of Morpeth Town as the pair battle for the third remaining place although the fourth-top side will go up if Ryhope are compulsorily relegated.
Roofing, though, could hardly have left it any later at Thornaby where substitute Lee Maitland scrambled the ball into the net in the 92nd minute. As soon as the game was restarted the referee blew the final whistle.
Horden CW signed off with a seven-goals rout at West Allotment Celtic whose marksmen were Marc Allen (2), David Dorman (2), Shaun Reid, Glen Ford and Ian Dunn.
Northallerton put four past Whitehaven courtesy of Carl Chillingsworth, with a brace, Steve Butterworth and Colin Anderson.