With three wins out of four, Sunderland RCA sit proudly alongside champions Shildon at the top of the First Division.
But manager Martin Swales will not be getting carried away with his team’s early-season success despite being pleased that they eventually got over the line to beat Ashington 2-1 at Meadow Park on Saturday.
It took a penalty to break the deadlock. In the 28th minute, James Armstrong was brought down and Colin Larkin stepped up to beat goalkeeper Conor Grant from the spot.
The Wearsiders doubled their lead early in the second period as Michael Charlton volleyed home from just six yards. But Steve Harmison’s Colliers hit back strongly.
When Lee McAndrew drove into the top corner of the net from 18 yards, the goal set up a tense final 10 minutes, but RCA held firm.
Newly-promoted Ryhope CW claimed their first win, defeating Seaham Red Star 3-1 in an entertaining derby at Seaham Town Park.
Nathan O’Neill converted a Stephen Francis cross from six yards for the opener on 22 minutes and, encouraged by the success, Ryhope were dominant for the remainder of the opening half, with Leon Ryan having an effort cleared off the line.
O’Neill had a shot blocked, but a second goal was only delayed until the start of the second period when Thomas Bott delivered a stunning strike from 25 yards which gave Star goalkeeper Shaun Newbrook no chance.
The home side rallied and were given a lifeline on the hour mark as Robbie Bird slid the ball under goalkeeper Chris Rookes.
Seaham pressed for the equaliser and Darryl Donnelly had a header tipped over the crossbar by Rookes, then Craig Lynch saw his shot rattle the crossbar and strong Seaham appeals for a penalty were turned down.
Ryhope, though, defended stoically and were rewarded as Harvey Saunders bagged a brilliant third goal, running from his own half and capitalising on poor defending to ease the pressure and see Gary Pearson’s side safely home. They next visit Consett tomorrow.
Jarrow Roofing succumbed to Newton Aycliffe, who went two goals up by the 47th minute with a brace from Ashley Coffey.
Shaun Vipond halved the deficit midway through the second period, but, despite pressing for an equaliser, Richie McLoughlin’s side suffered their first defeat.
After twice going behind and then leading 3-2, South Shields were denied victory when Whitley Bay claimed a dramatic added-time equaliser.
Gavin Cogdon, David Carson and David Palmer netted for the Mariners, with Chris McDonald, Adam Shanks and Ross Wilkinson, with a 92nd-minute leveller, on the mark for Ian Chandler’s Bay.
Easington Colliery – the only side with a 100 per cent record – lead the Second Division. Their latest success came at Darlington RA, where they won a nine-goal thriller by a 6-3 margin.
Joe Kerridge (2), Luke Page, Shane O’Brien, Shaun Smith and Bryan Norton were the visitors’ heroes, with Danny Pigg and Christian Holliday (2) replying.
Durham City claimed their second success, but it was a close call against Crook Town at Consett.
They were awarded a free kick 25 yards out, in the last minute, and James Moore produced a tremendous drive which beat the wall and Crook keeper Jason Scotter.
Newcomers Stockton Town and Blyth Town shared the points in a 1-1 draw. With barely a minute gone, Robert Nolan volleyed in for Blyth and four minutes later Chris Stockton equalised.
Stockton Town are second, a point behind Easington, and Tow Law Town are third after they erased a two-goal deficit to defeat Ryton and Crawcrook Albion.
The Tynesiders appeared to be coasting the game when Liam Anderson and Shane Jennings scored within a minute – but the Lawyers roared back to clinch a 3-2 victory courtesy of Graham Lazenby, Michael Talbot and Matthew Soulsby.
Struggling Esh Winning lost 5-1 at Whickham.
Jack Carr replied to efforts from Joe Mole (2), David Fitzpatrick, Ross Nicholson and Mark Fitzpatrick.