BACK-TO-BACK wins in the space of five days have lifted Sunderland RCA out of the Ebac Northern League First Division’s bottom six.
Following victory over Team Northumbria, the Wearsiders edged Bishop Auckland by the odd goal in three at Heritage Park on Saturday but it took a man-of-the-match performance by goalkeeper Andrew Spence to secure all three points.
David Lee’s side went ahead on 14 minutes when Ross Preston was brought down and Gavin Barton drove the penalty wide of goalkeeper Scott Pocklington.
Stephen Baines doubled the lead after 28 minutes with a clinical finish from the edge of the box which flew into the top corner of the net.
Soon afterwards though Bishops were back in the game. Danny Brunskill threaded a through ball to Dean Douglas who struck with a powerful finish.
Spence was frequently in action, making several excellent saves including one deep into added time when Keiran Megran’s 20-yard effort looked a certain goal.
Durham City were full value for a point at Billingham Synthonia, whose goalkeeper James Briggs denied Denver Morris but the striker was back in the 22nd minute to slide the ball into the net from Ollie Hotchkiss’s free-kick.
City created the better chances in the opening half but Synners came back strongly in the second and equalised with David Hillerby heading in a David Alderson cross.
Matthew Scott went close for City and Synners’ Michael Sweet hit the post before Joel Callendar had an effort cleared off the Durham line. Just before the end home goalkeeper Briggs was forced to turn over the crossbar a great effort by Hotchkiss.
The ground-hopping day, part of the League’s 125-year celebrations, was a huge success with big attendances at the four venues.
A 200-plus crowd watched Newcastle Benfield defeat Morpeth Town in a 7pm kick-off. Tony Stephenson and Paul Brayson had the Tynesiders ahead but when Michael Chilton reduced the deficit, it was all to play for.
Benfield held on and after claiming only two points from their first six games, have taken 22 from the last eight.
Team Northumbria’s 4pm start against Whitley Bay was also well attended and the neutrals were treated to a seven-goal thriller and a superb man-of-the-match performance by Whitley’s Paul Chow, who scored all his side’s four goals.
David Luke, Dan Riley and Peter Watling were on target for Team who are in the bottom three.
Hebburn Town remain at the basement with just two points out of a possible 45. Despite an improved performance, they went down to Penrith for whom Steven Rigg and Jordan Little (pen) struck in the opening 17 minutes.
Billingham Town have now conceded 64 goals in 16 games after being hit for six by Crook Town at the Millfield ground.
Adam Nichols, Marc Ellison, Robbie Bird, Kyle Davis, Richard Hodgson and Stephen Gamble (og) netted with Billingham’s only success credited to Richard Hodgson.
West Auckland Town are the only unbeaten side after they defeated Consett with goals by debutant Warren Byrne, signed from Crook Town, and Steven Richardson.
Dunston UTS consolidated fifth place when strikes by Lee McAndrew and Chris Winn were pivotal against Guisborough Town.
Spennymoor Town and Shildon, who played on Friday night, lead the field with Celtic Nation third. The Cumbrians won by a three-goal margin at Bedlington Terriers.
Dylan Williamson was an early scorer for the Northumbrians and following Colin McMenamin’s equaliser on the stroke of half time, three goals in the last 20 minutes from Jacob Simpson, Paul Johnson and Michael Rae eventually saw Celtic to a crucial victory.