AFTER taking just one point from their two previous EBAC Northern League games, Ryhope CW bounced back to winning form when they went nap against Horden CW.
The goals flowed from man-of-the-match Chris Winn, with a hat-trick, Michael Charlton and John Butler and Martin Swales’ side has now racked up 96 goals in just 24 games.
They remain three points behind Crook Town, who were taken to the wire before they defeated fifth-top Jarrow Roofing in the match of the day.
Twice behind through strikes by Andrew Appleby and Liam McBryde, Crook hit back courtesy of David Gordon and Warren Byrne. The result could have ended one of three ways, but in a dramatic finale Crook clinched victory with an 89th-minute goal from Robert Bird.
Seaham Red Star consolidated third place, but they too had a close call at Whickham despite building up a two-goals cushion thanks to Shannon North and Chris Goss.
When Andrew Snaith threw the Glebemen a lifeline on 67 minutes, it was all to play for, but Seaham held on and are eight points adrift of Ryhope CW with a game in hand.
Birtley Town eased their relegation fears with victory at Ryton and Crawcrook Albion where they led from the first minute through Scott Wallace.
The outstanding Andy Hunter kept Birtley in front saving a Paul King penalty, and near the end Birtley were gifted a second goal as Callum Turnbull deflected a corner into his own net.
Goalkeepers Mattie Cook (Cheste-le-Street) and Whitehaven’s Stuart Pettit were outstanding when the Cestrians won 2-1 at Chester Moor Park.
Pettit was helpless in preventing Michael Pattison scoring on seven minutes and his opposite number had little chance with Sam Smith’s penalty. Before the interval Dave Lewis put through his own goal.
Morpeth Town may be seventh, but have lost just once and are a team to watch in the promotion race. They tore Darlington RA apart and nine goals flowed from Michael Chilton (5), Stephen Anderson (2), Jordan Fry and Eddie Dines. RA’s only reply was a James Howlett penalty.
North Shields are also putting pressure on the leading pack and they stretched an unbeaten sequence to 10 games, at Thornaby. Robert Nolan and Keiron Wrightson both bagged a brace with Dean Holmes and Keith Douglas also on target.
Tow Law Town won for the first time at the Ironworks Road ground with leading scorer Mattie Scott (2) and a Craig Garthwaite own goal seeing off the challenge from Esh Winning.
Brandon United eased their relegation fears and dented the promotion hopes of fourth-top Northallerton Town when they claimed the points thanks to Glen Hendrix and Andrew Blackburn after Carl Chillingsworth had given the visitors the lead.