Ward and Walker send Durham into top half

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DURHAM City nudged into the top half of the Ebac Northern League First Division with last night’s fully-deserved 2-0 victory over fifth-placed Dunston UTS at New Ferens Park.

There was little to enthuse about until the Citizens went ahead on 24 minutes. Ian Ward sent in a looping header from the back post and into the net at the opposite corner.

City had a scare early in the second period when Mark Batey was forced to clear off the line a Chris Swailes’ header but on 72 minutes, only a tremendous save by UTS goalkeeper Ian Aitken kept out a brilliant volley from Batey.

With four minutes left on the clock, Adam Furness’s side just about clinched all three points. Aitken parried a shot from Craig Ellison before Jack Walker cut in from the left and produced a clinical finish into the roof of the net.

Penrith recorded one of the shock results of the season when they hammered Billingham Synthonia 5-0 to ease their relegation fears.

All the goals came in a pulsating first half from Kevin Connolly, with a brace, Martin Coleman, Matthew Read and Scott Allison. Despite having Stephen Ainsworth sent off on 70 minutes, the Cumbrians didn’t concede a goal and the five they scored means they have the best goals difference of the bottom eight teams.

There was no respite for Newton Aycliffe, though, who are now in the bottom three after losing 2-1 to championship contenders Spennymoor Town.

Gavin Cogdon scored direct from a free-kick in the opening half but Aycliffe battled back and Danny Lambert fired past Moor’s goalkeeper Robert Dean after being put through by Fred Woodhouse.

With 15 minutes remaining, Craig Ruddy opened up an opportunity and Michael Rae drove wide of Aycliffe keeper Scott Pocklington for the winner.

Spennymoor are now 25 points adrift of Darlington 1883 with eight games in hand and West Auckland Town remain third, equal on points with Moors but they have played eight games more than their rivals.

West appeared to be coasting to a big win when they led Consett by four goals from John Campbell (2), Mattie Moffat and Jonathan Gibson. Besides scoring twice, Campbell had a hand in both his team’s two other goals.

With only 25 minutes remaining, there looked to be no way back for the Steelmen but they almost snatched a point with a late rally.

Michael Mackay reduced the deficit on 65 minutes and nine minutes later Aristote Guerin Lakonga also struck.

With the clock running down, Mackay scored his second goal and Consett’s third but West held on to keep alive their hopes of finishing third.

Ashington moved into the top six with an easy 4-1 win at home to Celtic Nation. Marc Walton (2), James Taylor and Mattie Grieve hit the target with Michael Reed claiming a consolation goal for the Cumbrians.

After leading courtesy of Stuart Nicholson and Paul Gardiner, Hebburn Town were pegged back by Shildon’s Sam Garvie and Mark Hudson (pen).

As the game went into the last minute a draw looked the likely outcome but Wayne Gredziak came up trumps for Hebburn, rounding goalkeeper Keith Finch and slotting the ball into an empty net.

In Division Two, Esh Winning have given themselves a chance of avoiding the drop with a 4-2 win over Whickham at Waterhouses.

Twice in the lead courtesy of Darren Morton and Stuart Thompson, Esh were pegged back on both occasions by Ross Peareth and Scott Swanson.

Thompson gave his side the lead for the third time and just before the end David Harrison made sure of three crucial points which lifts Esh above Alnwick Town, who have joined Horden CW in the relegation zone.

Birtley Town were involved in a goalless draw at Stokesley SC and were indebted to goalkeeper Andrew Hunter for saving Chris Kamara’s 30th-minute penalty.