Ryhope CW have moved to within six points of Second Division leaders South Shields, with a game in hand.
They came from behind to defeat Darlington RA 4-1 on Saturday, after falling behind when Rob Moncur opened the scoring after 49 minutes, finished from close range.
From then on though, Gary Pearson’s side dominated. Nathan O’Neill levelled from the spot, following a penalty award for handball. He then fired Ryhope in front on the rebound after a shot was saved. Kyle Davis cut in from the right and beat the keeper at his near post for a third goal in quick succession, then Matty Weirs, in stoppage time, beat the keeper in a one on one.
The table-topping Mariners’ home fixture with Brandon United was postponed, as was third-top Billingham Synthonia’s trip to Alnwick Town.
There was good news though for the three leading teams in that neither Chester-le-Street nor Team Northumbria managed to win.
The Cestrians trailed to second-bottom Esh Winning, whose marksmen were Liam Clark and Adam Ward. A deflected own goal following a free-kick threw Colin Wake’s side a lifeline and, 20 minutes from the end, Craig Nichol equalised for a 2-2 draw.
Team North led through Robert Spence on 38 minutes but then had David Dormand sent off for a tackle on Thornaby goalkeeper Michael Duff, who had to be substituted.
With only five minutes left, Stephen Butterworth restored parity and Team remain fifth, level on points with Chester-le-Street.
Easington Colliery moved up to seventh place with a comfortable 4-1 win at home to bottom side Stokesley SC.
Aidan Haywood, Luke Page, Joe Kerridge and Shaun Smith had the Colliers well ahead before the visitors reduced the deficit with an 87th-minute Connor Campbell penalty.