SUNDERLAND RCA’s STL Northern League title hopes took a massive blow as they fell 2-0 at rivals Spennymoor Town.
They still lead the table by six points, but Moors have three games in hand.
FA Carlsberg Vase finalists West Auckland Town and Dunston UTS have also played several games fewer than RCA and are in a good position to pip Neil Hixon’s side.
Joe Walton was denied by Moor’s goalkeeper Robert Dean before the home side broke the deadlock on 49 minutes with a crisp shot from Keith Graydon.
Midway through the second period, Leon Ryan headed past RCA keeper Neil Atkinson for the crucial second goal.
The nearest the visitors came to reducing the deficit was when an effort from Walton bounced off both posts before being cleared.
Four sides are battling for the title and the same number are fighting against relegation.
Stokesley SC are already down and Tow Law Town have a mountain to climb if they are to preserve their top flight status.
They matched Bedlington Terriers during the opening half, but wilted in the second after goals from Craig Hubbard, Glen Robson and Stephen Banks (og).
Jarrow Roofing, with only two games to play, are third from the basement, equal on points with Penrith.
Shildon added to Roofing’s misery when first-half strikes from Daniel Richmond, Ben Wood and Ian Maddison swept them to victory.
Billingham Town secured their status when they beat Penrith.
Two goals from Nicky Martin inside the opening half hour proved pivotal, but after Ben Jackson reduced the deficit on 50 minutes, the home side’s defence was tested several times.
Consett, the other side not yet safe, never recovered after conceding two goals in the opening 22 minutes at South Shields, whose matchwinners were Denver Morris and Peter Kane.