THE bottom six teams in Ebac Northern League Division One did not manage a point between them on Saturday – and the battle to avoid dropping down with already relegated Billingham Town and Hebburn Town remains wide open.
Just six points separate third-bottom Team Northumbria and Morpeth Town, with Bedlington Terriers and Sunderland RCA tucked in between the pair.
Sunderland RCA are fifth bottom, just two points ahead of Team Northumbria. They conceded an 88th-minute winner to Ashington’s Marc Walton, who had given his team a 22nd-minute lead.
Kyle Fryatt levelled right on the stroke of half-time at Meadow Park and it appeared that David Lee’s side had done enough to earn a point, but they were caught on the counter-attack two minutes from the end and there was no way back.
Team Northumbria were well beaten at Consett, were they conceded four goals to Luke Sullivan (2), Scott Martindale and Aristote Guerin Lakonga before Peter Watling managed a late consolation.
Bedlington’s survival bid took a blow when Bishop Auckland won at a canter. Former Ryhope CW striker John Butler was again prominent in Bishops’ attack.
He struck the crossbar on 31 minutes and Chris Lawson followed the rebound into the net. Danny Brunskill doubled the lead before the interval and, just before the end, Butler hammered the ball past on-loan goalkeeper Craig Towart.
Manager Nick Gray described Morpeth Town’s fixture at Crook as “a must-win game”, but the Millfield men avenged a recent defeat by the Northumbrians when goals from Kyle Davis and Richard Hodgson saw them home 2-0. Morpeth remain sixth bottom.
It’s equally unclear as to who will win the championship. Celtic Nation lead the field following their expected big win over Hebburn Town.
Colin McMenamin rifled a hat-trick with Mattie Grieve, James Patterson and Jonathan Allen also on the mark in a 6-0 success, with Hebburn having Kris Summers sent off at four down.
Despite being held to a goalless draw, second-placed Shildon were probably happy at fourth-top Guisborough Town, who have come on leaps and bounds in recent weeks.
Title favourites Spennymoor Town easily saw off nine-man Penrith with strikes from Lewis Dodds, Liam Henderson, Sonny Andrews and Dan Taylor. The Cumbrians had goalkeeper Josh Richardson sent off in the 27th minute, before Curtis Wood also saw red early in the second period.
West Auckland are the fifth team still in with a chance of finishing top, but the fact they still have 14 games to play, in addition to at least one tie in the FA Carlsberg Vase, could prove problematic.
Durham City, who parted company with manager Adam Furness and assistant Ian Skinner last weekend and saw a handful of players depart in midweek, drew 0-0 at Marske United.