SUNDERLAND West End maintained the pressure on the Wearside League’s leading trio last night.
But they were taken right to the wire before seeing off a determined challenge from Easington Colliery at Leyburn Grove, Houghton.
The only goal came on 25 minutes as David Keithley fired home a left-foot volley which gave Easington goalkeeper Graeme Pickering no chance.
In the second half, the Colliers had chances to equalise, but West End – fresh from Monday’s impressive win over title-chasing Willington – held on and remain fourth, just five points behind Richmond Town.
Peterlee Town toppled Stockton Town from pole position with a splendid 2-1 victory.
Just before the interval, Martin Hope flicked the ball on to Rhys Weir and he fired past Michael Arthur in the Teessiders’ goal.
Midway through the second period, Stockton’s Ben Turner failed to clear and Hope chipped the ball into the far corner of the net for 2-0.
Within two minutes Stockton were back in the game as substitute Joe Hinchley beat the outstanding Carl Johnson. Dan Hope and Ian Redman were also in top form for the Newtowners.
Silksworth Rangers held a young Cleator Moor Celtic side to a 1-1 draw. A defensive blunder opened up the opportunity for Ryan Hall to knock the ball into an empty net after 28 minutes.
Rangers improved in the second half and took the game to the visitors. It was no more than they deserved when, following sustained pressure, Danny Fagan’s shot was deflected past goalkeeper Tom Sharp.
In the closing stages, Sharp twice saved from Dean Smith and Nigerian Mansur Maglari also went close to a winning goal.
Willington returned to top spot with a 3-1 win at Harton and Westoe CW, for whom Stephen Telford beat both the wall and goalkeeper David Moffat with a direct free-kick.
Any hopes Harton harboured of upsetting the form book ended when they conceded three goals in 12 minutes before the interval.
Adam Pinkney drove past keeper Kevin Garrett before Jason White twice struck to give Willington the cushion of a two-goal lead which they comfortably held on to.
Third-top Richmond had to work hard for victory over Boldon CA. The only goal came in the 17th minute from Liam Darville, who fired past Alan Greenan.
Darlington Cleveland Bridge edged Kirkbymoorside 3-2, thanks to Danny McLachlan, Michael Carter (penalty) and an own goal.