COXHOE Athletic, who have struggled near the bottom of the Wearside League table for most of the season, escaped the wooden spoon with a last-gasp win over rival strugglers Leam Rangers.
The pair went into their final fixture in the knowledge that whoever lost would end bottom. A draw would see Coxhoe finish at the basement.
Following a tense contest it was Coxhoe who emerged winners by the odd goal in five.
Gordon Hutchinson raised the hopes of the visitors with his early strike, but Coxhoe hit back and led courtesy of Jonathan Hornsby, John Jury and Ryan Kiteley.
It looked job done, but, when David Ridley reduced the deficit to a single goal with 10 minutes left, Coxhoe had to endure a nervous finale before coming out on top.
The result means that Leam and second-bottom Boldon CA, who completed their programme a couple of weeks ago, need to apply for re-election.
Ashbrooke Belford House signed off by winning an eight-goal thriller against Cleator Moor Celtic.
They almost took the lead in the first minute with what would have been an incredible goal.
From the kick-off, the ball was played to Stephen Bogie, who spotted the goalkeeper off his line and, with his first touch, he delivered a speculative shot from the halfway line which rattled the crossbar.
Bogie, though, was not to be denied and his hat-trick, together with a brace from Stephen Callan, earned Ashbrooke the points. Ian Potts (own goal), Adam Meegan and Glyn Edwards replied for the Cumbrians.
In contrast, neither Richmond Town nor Sunderland West End managed a goal, but they produced a cracking match in which West End goalkeeper Lee Burrell excelled.
He made numerous saves, reserving his best for the last minute when he somehow managed to keep out an effort from Kalumn Holbrook which had goal written all over it.
Redcar Athletic afforded champions Stockton Town a pre-match guard of honour, but the goodwill ended mid-way through the second half when three players were sent off simultaneously.
Jamie Lee (own goal) and Chris Stockton had given the Teessiders a 2-0 cushion before the game erupted on 67 minutes resulting in James Smuk (Redcar) and Stockton’s Kallum Hannah and Andy Westwood being red-carded.
Matthew Garbutt added a third goal for Stockton, who end nine points ahead of Ebac Northern League-bound Ryhope CW.
Hartlepool finished fourth from the basement after defeating Prudhoe Town with strikes by Andrew Sagar (own goal), Kyle Ryan, 16 year-old Mitchell Ferguson and Shaun Ross. Sagar also scored for Prudhoe, whose other marksman was Michael Calvert.
Annfield Plain denied Seaton Carew sixth place when they came back from a two-goal deficit to win 3-2, thanks to Lee Mole, Callum Monroe and James Davies after Ben Wignall had bagged a brace for the Seasiders.
Easington Colliery are assured of sixth spot. Their final fixture at Jarrow was postponed and will be re-arranged.
Meanwhile, Prudhoe Town have done an about-turn and withdrawn their resignation from the League. Chairman Chris Lowther, said that because of a change in circumstances the Tynesiders could now continue.
H After almost 20 years at the helm, Keith Perry has stood down as manager of Ebac Northern League club Bedlington Terriers.
During his reign, Bedlington won the championship in five consecutive seasons, lifted the Northumberland FA Senior Cup three times and reached the final of the FA Vase, losing in the last minute to Tiverton.
Chairman Ronan Liddane said: “Keith’s decision is a body blow but I want to thank him for all he has done and wish him well.”