EASINGTON Colliery had to withstand strong second-half pressure from STL Northern League Second Division leaders Darlington RA to claim a morale-boosting success.
Easington grabbed a two-goal lead with a brace from John Harrison inside the opening half hour, but RA came out fighting and, after David Webster reduced the deficit, Stephen Cheeseman levelled to set up an exciting finale.
Harrison then came up trumps for Easington, completing his hat-trick and a 3-2 victory with seven minutes remaining.
Chester-le-Street lost for the third time in five games as Gillford Park held on for a 2-1 victory.
David Wallace and Stephen Skinner had the Cumbrians on top before Callum Patton replied. The Cestrians exerted late pressure, but an equaliser eluded them.
Seaham Red Star produced another encouraging performance, even though they lost 3-2 to Ryton and Crawcrook Albion.
Martin Soulsby, Craig Wilkinson and debutant Mark Eccles, signed from Consett, gave Ryton the edge, with Tim Bowman’s header and a Michael McEwan strike keeping Kevin Turns’ men in it all the way.
Lowly Horden CW and North Shields shared the points in a goalless draw. Liam Woodhouse hit the post for Horden, who were thankful for an outstanding display by goalkeeper Tom Orton.
Washington are fourth-top after holding third-placed Alnwick Town 0-0, while Daniel Smart and Andrew McIntosh notched for Birtley Town, who lost 3-2 to impressive visitors Crook Town, for whom Kevin Devine, Robbie Bird and Richard Hodgson netted.
Last season’s wooden spoonists, Morpeth Town, have made a good start and goals from Stephen Howe and Ashley McAlpine earned them a 2-0 win at Esh Winning.
Lewis Wing and Ryan Redman struck for Brandon United, but Thornaby emerged 3-2 winners courtesy of Graeme Baverstock and Paul Thorns (2).