HORDEN CW looked doomed only a couple of weeks ago.
But, following last night’s 2-1 victory over Thornaby, they are now just a point behind Esh Winning, who are just outside the Ebac Northern League Division Two relegation zone.
The Colliers’ form has clearly taken a turn for the better and although they didn’t play particularly well last night, in the circumstances the result is all that matters.
Thornaby struck first two minutes before the interval. The Colliers gave the ball away and Richie Walker struck with a tremendous, low shot from 25 yards which gave goalkeeper Stephen Hubery no chance.
It took Horden until the 75th minute to equalise. Daniel Reeves delivered a good free-kick to the far post for Stephen Hockaday to head wide of keeper Nicky Farrell.
With eight minutes remaining, Farrell brought down James Murphy and Michael Cain drove home the winning penalty.
On a freezing cold night at Nissan, there was little to warm supporters until the last few minutes when the clash of Washington and Chester-le-Street suddenly sprang to life.
Deep into stoppage time, Washington clinched the points. Chester goalkeeper Matthew Cook parried a shot from Dan Young, but the forward fired in the rebound.
Crook Town extended their lead over Ryhope CW at the top of the table to nine points although Martin Swales’ side have two games in hand.
Esh Winning, embroiled in a battle against the drop, conceded the first goal to David Paul after 22 minutes and the same player was on target half an hour later, with an excellent effort from outside the penalty area.
In Division One, table-topping Darlington 1883 are now 21 points in front of Spennymoor Town, who have played eight fewer games.
The Quakers were taken to the wire by lowly Penrith and they needed an 85th-minute penalty to earn them three crucial points. Stephen Thompson was brought down and Terry Galbraith slotted home the spot-kick.
Mark Hudson, with a brace, Jamie Owens and Carl Jones steered Shildon home 4-1 against Consett, for whom Michael Mackay claimed a late consolation.
Guisborough edged Hebburn Town in a seven-goal thriller. After taking a two-goal lead through Mike Roberts, the home side were pegged back as Stuart Nicholson and Paul Gardner struck.
Lewis Wood and Jamie Poole (penalty) restored Guisborough’s two-goal cushion but Nicholson scored his second of the night with seven minutes remaining. The hosts just held on.
Second Division West Allotment Celtic produced a shock in the Brooks Mileson Memorial Cup when they defeated First Division Team Northumbria 3-2 after extra time, with Chris Douglas netting twice.
Northallerton also went through at the expense of Whickham, who led until the 85th minute courtesy of Jordan Lartey. Colin Anderson equalised and Chris Dickinson converted a penalty for the winner in added time.