Ebac Northern League
by Malcolm Pratt
DESPITE playing most of the second half with 10 men, Durham City withstood a late challenge from West Auckland Town to secure victory by the odd goal in three at New Ferens Park on Saturday.
Home striker Ryan Noble was left with a simple tap-in on 38 minutes, but the Citizens’ hopes wilted six minutes into the second period.
Arjun Purewal was sent off for deliberate handball and Alex Francis levelled the scores with the resultant penalty.
Stephen Richardson went close for West before, in the final minute, Ross Wilkinson bundled in Durham’s winner following a corner.
There were six minutes of added time, but Ian Chandler’s men defended stoically to dent West’s First Division championship hopes.
A point would have taken them above North Shields into pole position. They remain second ahead of Guisborough Town, who are making a surge for the top.
They left it late before seeing off Newcastle Benfield’s challenge. Twice ahead through Luke Bythway (pen) and Lee McPhillips, they were pegged back by Paul Brayson and Steve Tobin.
Benfield were on course for an upset, but, in added time, Bythway took advantage of culpable defending and fired home the winning goal.
Although they are eighth, Shildon have so many games in hand on the teams above them that they cannot be discounted in the title race.
Victory over Jarrow Roofing, who led courtesy of Paul Gardiner, keeps the Railwaymen on course.
Mark Doninger restored parity before Lee Chapman’s cross was deflected into the net for an own goal winner.
Bishop Auckland coasted to a 4-0 victory at Whitley Bay, where they took advantage of Craig Smith’s 19th minute dismissal. Andrew Johnson and John Butler both bagged braces.
At the bottom, Crook Town’s fixture at Ashington was postponed and second-from-basement Sunderland RCA had another free day.
The pair no doubt welcomed Celtic Nation’s 2-0 defeat by West Allotment Celtic. Both goals came in the opening seven minutes from Kyle May and Michael Bell.
The Cumbrians remain third-bottom, four points ahead of RCA, who now have six games in hand.
The three leading teams in Division Two endured anxiety before emerging victors. Table-topping Seaham Red Star look on course for victory when Liam McBryde’s brace had them in control going into the last 10 minutes.
But lowly Billingham Town levelled courtesy of Danny Ballantyne and Gary Redman and a shock was on the cards until man of the match Lee Kerr fired home the Star winner two minutes from time.
Second-top Norton and Stockton Ancients were also taken to the wire at Heaton Stannington before Harrison Davies’s 20th minute strike earned them the points.
Washington needed an added time penalty from Mark Davison – his second of the game – to defeat Alnwick Town 3-2,. The visitors led through Stephen Hogg (2) after Chris Winn had opened the scoring for the Mechanics.
Birtley Town failed to halt Team Northumbria’s promotion hopes. Ben Murdock starred in the attack and as goalkeeper for Team. He scored all three goals before taking over from injured keeper Andy Jennison on 75 minutes and keeping a clean sheet.
Hebburn Town are also on the fringe of the promotion race and after going behind to Joe Carter, they defeated Stokesley SC thanks to Mark Costello, Shaun Wray and Channon North.
Scott Donaldson’s 81st minute goal was all that separated winners Whickham from Chester-le-Street while South Shields edged Darlington RA 2-1 away, courtesy of Chris Renshaw and Paul Kane. Phil Caley equalised for the hosts.
At the bottom, it’s not looking good for Tow Law Town. They were hit for six by impressive Esh Winning, whose marksmen were Taylor Hughes (2), Lee Blades (2), Luke Thompson and Lee Dempsey.
Two Northern League sides are in today’s draw for the last 16 of the FA Carlsberg Vase.
A crowd of 624 saw North Shields romp to a 4-1 success at home to Consett, with goals by Gareth Bainbridge (2), Denver Morris and James Luccock. The Steelmen trailed 4-0 before Calvin Smith hit a late consolation.
Dunston UTS faced a difficult task at Heanor Town but came through unscathed with an 80th minute strike by Andy Bulford.