EARLIER in the season Sunderland RCA were bottom of the STL Northern League but their improvement has been so marked that they are now ninth, following last night’s 2-0 victory over Billingham Synthonia at Meadow Park.
Neil Hixon’s side scored twice in eight minutes during the opening half. David Abel deflected a Joe Walton shot into his own net after 20 minutes.
Soon afterwards Walton cut in from the right and delivered a fierce shot past advancing goalkeeper Josh Moody.
Ryton are destined for the Second Division and they lost for the 30th time in 31 games when third-from-bottom West Allotment Celtic eased their relegation fears with a 2-0 victory at Kingsley Park.
Paul Gardner gave them an 18th-minute lead and just before the interval Lee Hamilton put the finishing touch to an excellent cross from Craig Scott.
Esh Winning also have a battle on their hands if they are to avoid the drop. A 2-1 defeat at home to Ashington leaves them precariously placed second from the basement.
Chris Scott and Stephen Young netted for the Colliers with Ian Ward having levelled for Esh just before the interval.
At the other end of the table Newcastle Benfield are now just a couple of points behind third-top Consett after seeing off a strong challenge from top six side West Auckland Town.
The only goal came in the fourth minute from Kris Wilkinson who was left unmarked at the back post and easily beat goalkeeper Billy Hanson.
A blow for West was an injury to Hanson and he was stretchered off in the 65th minute to be replaced by outfield player Mark Stephenson who kept a clean sheet.
In Division Two, Seaham Red Star’s losing sequence continued at North Shields who made it 15 wins and four draws in 19 matches with a four-goals second-half romp.
Jonathan Hall gave them the lead on 55 minutes before Keith Douglas took the man-of-the-match honours scoring a hat-trick.
Seaham went down to 10 men with the dismissal of Michael Turnbull when the Robins were two goals ahead.
Birtley Town’s recent good form came to an abrupt end at home to promotion candidates Team Northumbria who hit their opponents for six.
Lee Scott scored the first three goals and he was followed on the score sheet by Michael Fenwick, Gavin Donaghue (pen) and Graeme Cairns.
Second-from-bottom Brandon United claimed a useful point at Gillford Park but will be disappointed at conceding two goals in the last four minutes.
Danny Corbett and an own goal from Matthew Bell appeared to have Brandon on the way to a rare success but after Ryan Errington reduced the deficit, Kyle Armstrong equalised in the last minute.
Wayne Hall’s 19th-minute strike proved sufficient for Northallerton Town at Whickham and despite scoring four goals away from home, Morpeth Town still lost a 10-goals thriller at Whitehaven by a 6-4 margin.