MURTON looked to kick-start their season with victory at home to lowly Birtley, but a disappointing defeat was a big setback.
The match started at a fast pace, with both sides creating chances.
On the 15-minute mark, though, second-bottom newcomers Birtley took the lead with a brilliant lob from debutant Jason McCartney.
Murton had chances to equalise, and were denied by a goal-line clearance as Birtley scrapped for everything.
It remained all-action in the second period, with Murton falling two goals behind when man of the match Jonathan Swift’s fine header put Birtley in total control.
Both sides had good shouts for a penalty waved away before Mark Ruddock gave Murton hope, firing home on 76 minutes. Murton pushed everyone up in the closing stages to no avail, but Birtley battled impressively in defence to hold on to secure only their second win in 13 matches, and their first on the road.
For fifth-bottom Murton, it was a 13th defeat in 17, with only 12 points on the board. Anthony Cowie starred.
Hylton Sports Club bounced back to form with an impressive 4-0 home victory over a strong, physical Sherburn Village WMC side.
Hylton started with a 3-1-4-2 formation, returning to tactics that have previously worked well against Sherburn, and they were dominant from the off.
Liam Wooton beat the offside trap in the first few minutes and made no mistake to bag the opening goal.
The Wearsiders pressed with real confidence and were three up by the 20-minute mark as Kevin Humble added a second and Mark Catcheside produced the goal of the game, firing into the top corner for a spectacular third.
Humble killed the game off by poking home for 4-0 before the interval.
Sherburn’s chances were finished off when Nick Marley, their liveliest player, saw red for a second bookable offence just before half-time. Sherburn battled for everything in the second half, but a consolation goal eluded them, though they could take heart from keeping out Hylton’s marauding forwards.
Humble shone for Hylton, who climbed to sixth place with the victory, with Scott Arnott best for the visitors.
Bishop Auckland Reserves succumbed 3-1 at Horsley Hill - after leading, admittedly against the run of play.
Both sides produced free-flowing football in the first half, in which Liam Bain saw his deflected shot loop over Horsley keeper James Lone for Bishops’ opener.
The South Tynesiders’ pressure finally paid off when Andrew Taylor deservedly equalised. Horsley Hill then took full control, adding two second-half goals to maintain their 100 per cent home record, courtesy of commanding centre-back Ryan Moore and an Adam Bell penalty.
Teenager Tom West starred in midfield for Hill, with keeper Mark Connell best for the visitors.
Ferryhill Town were shown no mercy as they slumped to a 19-0 defeat at ruthless table-toppers Wallsend Town.
Skipper Gary Hall and prolific marksman Derek Graham both grabbed five goals, backed by hat-tricks from Ryan Arnott and Paul Thomson. Connor Dixon, Connor Brown and Mick Pooley also got in on the slaughter.
Brandon United Reserves enjoyed an excellent first half away to Hartlepool Reserves but still went down 2-1.
United showed plenty of energy and were strong in defence, but Hartlepool made the breakthrough against the run of play, with Ross Kidson netting after a neat one-two with Sam Harrison.
Harrison doubled the lead before the break, with never-say-die Brandon deservedly pulling one back when Aiden King bundled home from close range.
Adam Laidlaw stood out for Brandon.
Shildon Reserves and Wheatley Hill WMC were level at 1-1 in the 30th minute when their clash was abandoned due to thick fog, disappointing both teams.