SILKSWORTH Rangers, who have been bottom of the Wearside League table for longer than they care to remember, could yet avoid the wooden spoon.
Recently-appointed manager Mark McGinley has rejuvenated the side and last night’s impressive, against the odds victory over high-fliers Sunderland West End means his new charges are now just seven points behind Annfield Plain, with 12 games still to play.
Fourth-top West End struck first on 31 minutes. David Keithley and Stephen Moody combined in an excellent attack which ended with Keithley slotting the ball past Silksworth goalkeeper Joe Clayton.
But West End suffered a crucial blow on 71 minutes when goalkeeper Neil Bussey was shown a second yellow card for fouling Dean Smith. Keithley went in goal and his first task was to pick the ball out of the net from Rob Hall’s spot-kick.
Keithley excelled in his new role to keep the visitors in the hunt, but, deep into stoppage time, Rangers celebrated with Neil Jones completing excellent work by James Hepinstall for a 2-1 win.
McGinley’s five games in charge have yielded seven points, double the total they had from their first 25 fixtures.
Derwent Park was still snowbound, resulting in the postponement of second-bottom Annfield Plain’s game with Prudhoe Town.
Coxhoe Athletic are third from the basement after losing 3-1 at Jarrow, for whom Ryan Johnson was an early marksman.
Coxhoe had Stephen Ferguson sent off in the opening period and paid the penalty as Grant Pressling and Brian Johnson took Jarrow’s total to three before Vinny Gash claimed a consolation.
Easington Colliery slipped down to fourth bottom going down 2-1 at Leam Rangers, who made a dream start with Mark Williams’ early strike.
Right on the stroke of half-time, Alex Kempster headed in the equaliser and 10 minutes from time Anthony Thompson took advantage of a defensive lapse to slot past Aidan Jackson for the winner.
Willington, the only club whose application for promotion to the Ebac Northern League has been verified by the FA, stretched their lead at the top of the table to six points with a 2-0 home victory over Hartlepool.
Adam Sakr and Adam Pinkney netted in the opening half and, just before the end, Andrew Richardson failed with a penalty for the Hall Lane side.
Stockton Town stayed second but suffered a second consecutive 1-0 defeat, this time at the hands of Wolviston, for whom James Rowe converted a first-half penalty.
Richmond Town are now only a point behind Stockton with two games in hand. They went nap at Harton and Westoe CW as Mark Simms (2), Sam Vernalls, Liam Darville and Simon Pinkney struck.
Peterlee Town bounced back to form when they won 2-0 at Darlington Cleveland Bridge to moved into eighth position.
Dale Spence headed a seventh-minute corner past Mark Briggs, who was beaten again on 80 minutes as Anth Rogerson chipped over the head of the keeper.
Seaton Carew rifled five goals against Redcar Athletic, for whom Richie Playforth broke the deadlock on 53 minutes. It was all downhill from then on for Redcar in a 5-1 loss.