Ryhope CW ended their away campaign in Division One by earning an excellent 1-1 draw against sixth-top Bishop Auckland.
Gary Pearson’s men were outplayed in the first half at Heritage Park, but crucially only found themselves one goal down.
Ryhope, though, responded to the manager’s half-time teamtalk, coming out much improved for the second half and deservedly securing a point in front of a crowd of 329.
In one of only three top-flight games to get the go-ahead, sixth-top Bishops started the better of the two teams and deservedly went in front in the 16th minute.
The influential Priestley Griffiths fired a free-kick into the box and the ball was headed into his own net by Danni Lay, under pressure from striker Ian Ward, with keeper Jonny Ball left flat-footed.
James Fairley hit the post as Bishops went close to doubling their lead.
Ryhope looked a different team from the kick-off in the second period, and their efforts were rewarded by an equaliser on the hour mark, when Josh Home-Jackson beat home goalkeeper Thomas Dawsonat the second attempt after his initial header from a Kyle Davis cross was saved.
The switch of Lay from midfield to centre-back alongside Leon Ryan steadied Ryhope, as Thomas Bott moved forward to help re-energise the visitors.
Ryhope kept battling when Bishops got on top late on, and they got lucky when full-back Richard Paxton appeared to block an Andrew Johnson strike with his hands, but there was no penalty award.
Ryhope now have five home matches to complete the campaign, having managed five wins and four draws from their 21 away games in their first season in the top flight.
Chester-le-Street are struggling at the bottom and are now 12 points from the safety line, following a heavy defeat at home to fifth-top Marske United.
The 5-1 result, though, was harsh on the hard-working Cestrians.
Chester did start brightly and took the lead after 20 minutes lead when Joe Hailes’ good work and cross found Dominic Laws, who tapped home from close range.
The Seasiders hauled themselves level 15 minutes later, when a cross from Curtis Round found Daniel Earl, in the box, and the prolific marksman finished well.
Marske took the lead a minute into the second period when Earl fed Round, who made no mistake.
Earl then scored his second of the game, slotting home at the back post, and set up a fourth for Glen Butterworth.
In the 82nd minute, the rout was completed, when substitute Peter Bulmer beat goalkeeper Jack Wilson, to make it 5-1.
Shildon moved back above inactive Morpeth Town into third position after a comfortable 4-1 home win against Dunston UTS.
Lewis Wing opened the scoring for the Railwaymen, when he did well to beat two men and fired the ball into the bottom corner of the net, beating goalkeeper Dale Burrell, after 22 minutes.
Wing scored his second on 35 minutes. Matty Robson found Adam Burnicle in the box, and he laid the ball back to Wing, who finished well.
Dunston reduced the deficit, seven minutes into the second half, following a slip by defender Danny Parker. That let Dale Burrell through, and he found Scott Heslop, who fired past keeper Nick Liversedge.
Shildon, though, quickly restored their two-goal advantage. On 55 minutes,Wing fired a long hopeful ball to Billy Greulich-Smith, who squared the ball for Burnicle to make it 3-1.
Wing completed his hat-trick in the 65th minute, scoring after Marc Ellison and Anthony Bell combined to feed the forward.
Mickey Rae also hit the post for Shildon
Fourth-bottom Washington, whose gap to safety was reduced to eight points following West Allotment Celtic’s win over Ashington on Friday, saw their game at Penrith postponed,
But they are back in action tomorrow, with a trip to Jarrow Roofing.
On Wednesday, leaders North Shields can go 11 points clear if they beat visitors Consett, while fourth-top Morpeth Town entertain neighbours Ashington and Seaham Red Star face the long trip to Penrith.