RCA defeat sees trap door open

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DESPITE producing an improved performance, Sunderland RCA went down to Darlington 1883 for the second time in five days last night.

The Wearsiders are now sixth from bottom in the Ebac Northern League First Division, just four points outside the drop zone and facing a fight for survival.

Neil Hixon’s side were hit for seven by Martin Gray’s Quakers on Saturday, but, at Meadow Park last night in front of a season’s best crowd of 473, they trailed by just a single goal until seven minutes from time.

The home side considered a 34th-minute penalty to be “soft”, but Steve Thompson made no mistake firing past goalkeeper Mark Forden.

The keeper was injured and replaced by Jonathan Ball for the second half and he kept a clean sheet until the 83rd minute, but then conceded three times in as many minutes.

Thompson doubled the Quakers’ lead with a tremendous 25-yard shot into the top corner of the net and further goals followed in quick succession from Leon Scott and Stephen Johnson.

Penrith remain equal on points with Newcastle Benfield, who occupy the last relegation place.

The Cumbrians went down to Consett, for whom Aristote Guerin Lakonga, signed just before the deadline from Sunderland RCA, celebrated with a well-taken brace of goals.

Grant Davidson reduced the deficit on 78 minutes, but Penrith were unable to force an equaliser.

Marske United eased their relegation fears with a tremendous victory over second-top West Auckland, who now trail leaders Darlington 1883 by 28 points.

The only goal at the seaside came in the 37th minute when a cross from Brian Stewart was fired home by Chris McGill past West goalkeeper Neal Atkinson.

Bedlington Terriers are back in the top six after they, too, won by a single goal at home to Guisborough Town.

Goalkeeper Kevin Morton kept Terriers in the game with several splendid saves.

Then, nine minutes from the end, Paul Brayson tapped in the winner following good work by Mark Convery and Richard Pell.

H Fixtures affecting both the top and bottom of the Ebac Northern League’s First Division are scheduled for tonight.

Spennymoor Town will overtake West Auckland and move into second place if they win away to relegation-threatened Billingham Town.

Second-bottom South Shields host Celtic Nation in another crucial fixture, while Newton Aycliffe and Newcastle Benfield, who are both in the bottom five, will be fighting for survival in their clash.

Bishop Auckland have home advantage over Shildon in a derby with little for either side to play for, while Dunston UTS visit Whitley Bay, with both aiming for a top-three finish.

In Division Two, Brandon United are not safe from the threat of relegation and they could find it difficult at home to West Allotment Celtic.