IT IS now extremely tight at the top of the Ebac Northern League Second Division following Ryhope CW’s heavy 5-2 defeat by second-placed Crook Town, the in-form side during recent weeks.
The Wearsiders, though, contributed to their downfall when they missed two penalties and conceded one to Crook, which the visitors converted.
John Butler’s 20th-minute spot-kick was saved by goalkeeper Barry Poskett and immediately Crook took the lead through Warren Byrne, who quickly added a second goal.
Just before the interval, Ryhope were awarded a second penalty which was this time entrusted to Lee McMahon, but he drove wide.
Chris Pearson then showed how it should be done when he fired wide of keeper Chris Rookes from the spot to make it 3-0 before Martin Swales’ side mounted a spirited fight-back which earned them goals by Butler and Greg Swansbury.
It was now anyone’s game, but Crook finished strongly to go nap as Byrne completed a hat-trick and Craig Hughes also scored.
Ryhope’s lead is now down to just two points and Crook have a game in hand.
Last season, Seaham Red Star fought a rearguard action against relegation but they are the most improved side and a 2-1 victory away to Chester-le-Street propelled them into third place.
Channon North was an early marksman and after Matthew Morris levelled for the Cestrians, Adam Pegran struck the winner.
The outlook is not so bright for Horden CW, however. They haven’t won in 15 attempts after going down heavily at Washington.
The Colliers held their own during the opening half but wilted in the second when Mark Pattison and Lee Hamilton added to their earlier strikes and Mark Covell also scored to take their side’s total to five goals.
Darren Atkinson and Chris Brunton netted for Horden, who remain second from bottom.
Birtley Town are fourth from the basement. Scott Oliver’s side twice came from behind to claim a vital point against mid-table Whickham, whose scorers were Sam McIntosh and Scott Swanson. Matthew Hornsby and Dan Smith responded.
It wasn’t a good day for Sunderland RCA’s revamped side which crashed to a 5-1 defeat against fourth-top Bishop Auckland in the First Division clash at Meadow Park.
Andrew Johnson (2), Kieron Megran (2) and Dale Jardine (pen) netted, with Aristote Guerin Lokonga RCA’s only marksman.
Durham City were also on the receiving end of a heavy defeat against leaders Darlington 1883, who included five former City players in their starting line-up.
Two of them, Amar Purewal (2) and David Dowson scored and so too did Gary Galbraith with an early penalty.
The Quakers have a seven-point lead over Spennymoor Town, who have played five fewer games, while West Auckland are third following victory at Celtic Nation with goals by Stuart Banks (2) and Mattie Moffat. Craig Wilson levelled for the Cumbrians at one stage.
Bishop Auckland remain fourth, with Whitley Bay up to fifth. Ash Davis (2) and Paul Chow eased Bay to victory at lowly Norton and Stockton Ancients, whose only reply came from Dale Mulligan.
Dunston UTS failed to win a point from their first five games, but they have come good and they’ve now lost only two of their last 16 fixtures following victory at Newcastle Benfield where Steven Shaw grabbed an added time winner after Benfield’s Stephen Young had cancelled out Michael Dixon’s effort.