SUNDERLAND RCA are now only one place outside the Ebac Northern League First Division relegation zone after suffering a hugely-damaging defeat in the crucial bottom-of-the-table clash at Team Northumbria last night.
The Wearsiders took a 22nd-minute lead as Joe Hughes tapped the ball into the net following a corner but Team rallied strongly from the start of the second half.
After only a minute, Phil Lumsden beat Jonathan Carmichael from a corner and two goals in three minutes midway during the half left RCA with a mountain to climb.
On 64 minutes, Lewis Aird delivered a left-foot volley past Carmichael, who was quickly beaten again by Ben Sayer’s clinical strike from inside the penalty area.
With Billingham Town already relegated and Hebburn Town certain to follow them, the battle is on for who will join them in Division Two next season.
Team remain third from bottom but are now only a point behind Sunderland RCA.
Just two points though separate five teams with Bedlington Terriers, Morpeth Town and Penrith all involved in the relegation scrap.
Any hopes Birtley Town harboured of making a late challenge for promotion from the Second Division surely ended when they went down 3-1 to Northallerton Town.
Despite holding their own for the opening 40 minutes, Paul Bryson’s side then conceded three goals in the space of 10 minutes.
Graeme Caygill, with a brace, and Colin Anderson had the visitors firmly in control and it wasn’t until just before the end that Adam Frogett claimed a consolation goal for the hosts.
H Jarrow Roofing have the chance to close North Shields’ lead at the top of the Ebac Northern League Second Division to only five points when they line-up against Thornaby at Boldon tonight.
Richie McLoughlin’s side has surged into second place on the back of some impressive performances this year.
At Christmas, they trailed the Robins by 12 points but following another win at the week-end and the Shieldsmen’s defeat at Seaham Red Star, the gap has narrowed to eight points.
And although Thornaby have improved in recent weeks the free-scoring South Tynesiders, who have notched 91 goals, start favourites to further erode the Robins’ lead.
Heaton Stannington are also pressing to clinch one of the three promotion places. Although sixth going into the fixture with Tow Law Town at the Ironworks Road ground, they have three games in hand on the leading trio.
At the bottom, Ryton and Crawcrook Albion will be looking to build on their win at the week-end and another success will lift them off the basement for the first time in several weeks.
They go to Darlington RA, whose promotion challenge has come off the rails and they are now effectively out of contention.
Only one game is scheduled in Division One. Ashington are in Cumbria for what promises to be a difficult game against leaders Celtic Nation but the Colliers will be confident after completing the double over their opponents, albeit the two games were both played on their Woodhorn Lane pitch.
Ashington manager Gary Middleton reports that his only selection concern is for Martin Brittain, who will undergo a late fitness test.
A big gate is expected at West Auckland for the attractive Durham Challenge Cup semi-final tie against Spennymoor Town.
The teams had mixed fortunes in the FA Carlsberg Vase at the week-end. Whereas West Auckland reached the quarter-finals to set up a re-match of the 2012 final against Dunston UTS, Moors went out to Newcastle Benfield.
Dunston UTS, buoyant following a five-goal romp in the Vase, turn their attentions to the Brooks Mileson Memorial Cup when they visit Second Division Whitehaven while Marske United have home advantage over West Allotment Celtic.