NORTH Shields clinched promotion from Division Two on Saturday, leaving four sides to battle it out for the two remaining places.
The Robins celebrated at the Daren Persson Stadium when second-half goals from Gareth Bainbridge, with his 53rd of the season, Dean Holmes and Michael Tait saw off Chester-le-Street 3-0. The championship is now in their sights.
West Allotment Celtic are in a strong position to go up, too, after they beat lowly Brandon United.
It wasn’t plain sailing, though, after Andrew Blackburn threw Brandon a lifeline following early strikes by Ian Dunn and Robbie Nolan.
Seaham Red Star are third, but, having played more games than the other three teams in the race, are relying on their rivals slipping up.
A draw at Whitehaven, where Arthur Pears cancelled out Adam Johnston’s 75th-minute penalty for Seaham, did not help their cause.
Jarrow Roofing stayed fourth but suffered a potentially costly 4-2 defeat to Washington for whom Mark Davison (2), David Southern and Chris Winn struck to maintain their outstanding form under boss Steve Hutchinson.
Andrew Appleby and Dan Kirkup replied for Richie McLoughlin’s side, who have games in hand on both West Allotment and Seaham.
Heaton Stannington are also in the promotion mix following victory over bottom-of-the-table Ryton and Crawcrook Albion, where Gary Dixon, Ryan Dodsworth, Lee Johnson and Dean Deagle netted.
After suffering a nine-goal midweek thumping, Birtley Town tightened up at the back but still lost out 2-0 at Willington, for whom Jason White scored both goals.
South Shields succumbed 3-0 to Alnwick Town, whose matchwinners were Tom Vickers, Keith Douglas (penalty) and Kieran Hogg.