A SMILE was back on Neil Hixon’s face after his Sunderland RCA side enjoyed back-to-back wins with their victory over Jarrow Roofing in the STL Northern League.
The previous Saturday the Wearsiders were well beaten by Spennymoor Town, but after bouncing back to form against Bishop Auckland in a midweek cup tie, they resurrected their championship challenge with an emphatic victory on South Tyneside.
Ian Davison gave them the perfect start with his third-minute strike and eight minutes later, Adam McGuinness doubled the lead.
Recent signing Alex Benjamin made it three just after the hour and from then on Hixon’s men simply strolled to a victory which keeps them fourth.
The three teams above them all won. Dunston UTS, victors over Stokesley SC thanks to strikes by Andrew Bulford (2) and Anthony Young, lead the field on goal-difference from West Auckland.
West were taken to the wire by lowly Billingham Town. It wasn’t until the 71st minute that Alex Francis gave them the lead, but within three minutes Danny O’Brien levelled.
With eight minutes left, Jonathan Gibson struck the crucial winner for Auckland, who were indebted to goalkeeper Kyle Barlow as he saved superbly from Jamie Owens just before the end.
Third-placed Whitley Bay’s form has been erratic of late, but they produced their best performance for a long time to beat Billingham Synthonia, with strikes by Robbie Dale, Paul Robinson, Paul Chow and David Pounder.
Spennymoor Town are fifth, with games in hand on all the teams above them.
As anticipated, a close contest with Bedlington Terriers developed at The Brewery field.
Sonny Andrews (pen) and Leon Ryan gave Moors a dream start, but when Lewis Dodds deflected the ball into his own net on 83 minutes, Jason Ainsley’s side had to defend resolutely.
Bishop Auckland defeated Penrith in an eight-goal thriller.
Dan Hawkins, with a hat-trick, Andrew Johnson and Stephen Salvin were on target for Bishops, with Scott Allison (2) and Martin Coleman replying.
Following a useful start to their first season back in Division Two, Easington Colliery are now third-bottom after crashing to a 7-1 defeat at Thornaby.
Craig Skelton, Paul Thorns and Graeme Baverstock each bagged a brace, with Lee Farrington also on the mark. The Colliers’ consolation came from Keith Hutchinson.
Horden CW remain bottom after losing by the only goal to mid-table Brandon United, for whom Lewis Wing scored with a free kick from 25 yards.
Chester-le-Street eased their woes with a decisive victory over Hebburn Town as the goals flowed from Callum Patten (2), Michael Coghlan and Scott Swanston.
Seaham Red Star’s mini-revival came to an end at sixth-placed Esh Winning.
Kevin Gordon struck early for Red Star, but by the interval Esh were ahead thanks to Craig Nichol (2) and Darren Kokes. Just before the end, Keiron Megran fired in his team’s fourth goal.
Washington arrested a losing sequence, holding Whitehaven to a draw.
Dan Young and Ian Lee were their scorers, with Leigh Dunn twice on the mark for the Cumbrians.
Birtley Town were well beaten by Team Northumbria in a top-five clash.
Peter Watling (2), Graeme Cairns and Liam Clough swept the leaders to victory, with Birtley’s only goal credited to Stephen Telford.