Ryhope CW produced a gallant performance but could not stop the South Shields juggernaut on Saturday.
Gary Pearson’s men made life tough for the visitors Mariners, but the second-top FA Vase finalists have now won 26 games on the bounce, with their 2-1 Division One triumph.
Shields opened the scoring after just 12 minutes, when Carl Finnigan scored from the penalty spot, but Ryhope deservedly equalised on the half-hour mark when Josh Home-Jackson drove forward from halfway and fired a spectacular 25-yard belter into the top corner.
James Ellis was denied by a fine Peter Jameson save with 20 minute to go, just before the Mariners sealed victory with another fine goal in front of Ryhope’s biggest crowd in many years.
Midfielder Andrew Stephenson chested down the ball and slammed home a magnificent 25-yarder high into helpless keeper Antony Lowerson’s net.
Ryhope failed to create a clear chance in the closing stages, but they did pile on the pressure with some set-pieces, though Shields were closer to a third goal, with Gavin Cogdon, Barrie Smith and David Foley threatening.
Shields’ win cut neighbours North Shields lead to 14 points, with the Mariners having five games in hand.
Lowerson tweeted: “Great occasion today against South Shields, they can definitely say us RyhopeCW lads had a go! Good crack from their fans too!”, while boss Pearson wrote: “Thanks very much to the support and respect shown from all at South Shields. It helps a lot to us smaller clubs. I’m sure we didn’t let you down.”
Shildon gave the title race a twist, deservedly beating leaders North Shields 2-0 at Dean Street, in a match marred by fighting in the crowd.
The home side took the lead on 45 minutes, with Matty Robson sending Kyle Hayes the wrong way from the spot, following Michael McKeown’s foul on Jamie Harwood in the box. McKeown saw red for a second bookable offence.
The Robins had hit the post early on, through Dan Wilson but rarely threatened after that.
The Railwaymen sealed the points 10 minutes from time, Adam Burnicle firing home a low drive.
Shildon assistant manager Mike Barron said: “We started the game really well and I thought we dominated the match, even when they had 11 players on the pitch.
“We created lots of chances and we were the better team from start to finish.”
North Shields manager Jon McDonald said: “Obviously we’re disappointed to come away with nothing.
“We had a man sent off in the 45th minute and conceded a penalty which made it a difficult task in the second half. We have had a fantastic run up to now, winning 16 consecutive games, so it’s just about how we respond.”
Guisborough Town grabbed a lifeline in their survival battle, moving within four points of safety after beating Penrith 3-1. David Onions, Connor Smith and Louis Goldsack did the damage, before William Paul headed home a consolation.
Bishop Auckland had to settle for a 2-2 draw at home to Jarrow Roofing, who continue their outstanding recent form.
Roofing scored first in the eighth minute, when goalkeeper Thomas Dawson let Lee Kerr’s free-kick slip through his hands to give them a 1-0 lead.
However, Bishops equalised with a tremendous James Fairley solo effort, firing past Liam Brass at his near post.
Stuart Thompson and Fairley went close before Bishops went 2-1 up on 80 minutes, Fairley’s shot looping off a luckless defender’s back into the net.
But Roofing equalised three minutes from time, sub Michael Mackay smashing home after Dennis Knight forced a good save from substitute keeper Scott Pocklington.
Marske United beat Newcastle Benfield 4-1, thanks to Adam Wheatley, two-goal Danny Earl and Aaron Ramsbottom. Paul Brayson fired home from a tight angle for Benfield’s consolation.
Whitley Bay continued their fine form with a narrow 1-0 win at Dunston UTS, with Alex Kempster bagging the crucial goal in the 34th minute.
Bay had keeper Thomas Flynn sent off for a challenge on Steven Richardson late in the first half, but they were the dominant side and Dunston needed a string of top saves from Jack Norton to keep them in the game.