Ivy Legends ended leaders Newcastle East End’s 100 per cent Fourth Division record in an enthralling 2-2 draw on an energy-sapping pitch at The Limes.
East End had won all 15 previous games, and it could easily have been a first defeat if Ivy had taken one of their two clear-cut chances either side of half-time to go 3-0 up, but the Tynesiders deserve credit for a spirited fightback.
A towering header from Michael Cleugh and a tremendous 25-yard drive from star man Jason Pettits, who stood Cantona-like, turning up his collar after it hit the net, were just reward for Ivy’s tremendous first-half display.
They had several shots cleared off the line as East End defended heroically before the usually clinical Finn shot wildly over the bar from two yards.
East End regrouped and came on strongly as Ivy, playing only their second game in seven weeks, began to tire. Two late goals followed to ensure the draw.
Colonel Prior enjoyed a rare success, edging a 4-3 win at Hartlepool Greenside for only their fifth league triumph. Bottom club Wearmouth Old Boys lost 2-0 at Hartlepool Vets.
The Philadelphia climbed to second place in Division Three after an excellent 3-0 derby victory at Oddies.
Their bright start was rewarded on 10 minutes as a defence-splitting ball fed Alan Jones, who raced clear from a static Oddies defence to place his shot under the advancing keeper.
An identical through pass saw Martin Cowell double the lead on 20 minutes.
Oddies rarely looked capable of breaking down a solid visiting defence, and it was no surprise when The Philadelphia sealed the game after 65 minutes. After some good approach play, Paul Russell was brought down by a defender, and man of the match Jones smashed home the resulting penalty.
A 1-1 draw was a fair result as Rolls-Royce and Willow Pond only had two or three chances to score on a heavy pitch.
Rolls took the lead early in the second half when Gary Anderson put in a brilliant cross, after some good work down the left wing, and Neil Thompson rose magnificently to head home from 12 yards.
Both teams kept battling on, but rather than Rolls trying to close the game out, Willow pounced on a loose ball in the middle of the park and the ball was played to Rob Caffrey, who made no mistake from the edge of the area.
Blue House, nine points clear, drew 3-3 with Wallsend Winstons, who dropped to third place. Prolific scorer Gary Shields (2) and Neil Hixon netted for Blue.
Houghton Cricket Club lost 4-1 to Hartlepool Stag & Monkey, grabbing a scrambled equaliser just before half-time, while Washington JFC Biddick Inn drew 1-1 at Sedgefield Black Lion.
Washington Sandpiper moved top of Division One with a fine 4-0 home win against a depleted North Ormesby side.
North Ormesby battled well in the first half and remained level at half-time. However, Sandpiper started the second half strongly and scored immediately when Andy Lumsden ran through the defence to sidefoot home.
Washington took control as Ormesby tired and further goals by Steve Jones and poacher Justin Kirtley (2) finished the scoring.
Andy Lumsden was man of the match for Washington, while referee Michael Cullinan was praised by both teams for his performance.
Wearmouth CW stayed a point behind the new leaders after winning 3-0 at Consett.
Grindon Broadway won an entertaining match 2-1 at bottom club Dubmire.
Grindon took a second-half lead when Griffiths scored after beating three defenders. Shortly after, a Dubmire clearance fell to Robson of Grindon, but, following a mix-up with the keeper, Mick Verinda took advantage to equalise.
Robson had a hand in the Grindon winner, though, when his diving header was saved by the goalkeeper but went straight to Griffiths, who shot home.
Freddie Patterson starred for Dubmire, with Darren Cliff best for Grindon.
Easington CIU edged home 3-2 against Ferryhill Greyhound.
CIU took the lead in the fifth minute when a brilliant ball from Anthony Banks fell perfectly for Kenny Lynch to drive home from the edge of the box. Ferryhill quickly levelled on the break, but Tigger Lyons restored the advantage, unleashing a 35-yard screamer into the top corner.
Tommy Wilkinson made it 3-1 with a fine individual goal, beating two defenders before driving home. Ferryhill got one back late on, but Easington held on.
Coxhoe Red Lion climbed two places off the bottom after deservedly outgunning Hartlepool Gillen Arms 3-0.
Seaham Marlborough stayed three points clear in Division Two after sinking South Shields Catholic 5-1.
Hylton CW remained fifth with a 6-3 defeat of Peterlee Helford, while Mill View SC are up to seventh following a 7-2 demolition of North Shields Pineapple.
Holden Sportsmans edged a 3-2 victory at Hartlepool Catholic lub.
Scott Finlay made the breakthrough but Horden had a penalty saved before the break. Finlay doubled the lead, though Catholic claimed the ball had crossed the line before star man Billy Scott provided the cross.
The hosts rallied, but Craig Griffiths netted on a Horden break with the decisive third goal.
In the Premier Division, Ryhope Foresters grabbed the derby bragging rights with a 3-0 success at lowly Steels King Bros to consolidate fifth place.
Red House WMC lost 1-0 at Tudhoe Black Horse and Penshaw Catholic Club were beaten 2-0 at fourth-top Billingham Swan.