Northern League: Pounder at the double as Easington clinch FA Cup qualifying spot
Easington Colliery secured a top-eight finish in Division Two, guaranteeing a place in next season's FA Cup, after beating Brandon United 3-2 in an entertaining final home match.
Jack Pounder and Aaron Croft went close before Easington took a 21st-minute lead through Dylan Nesbitt, who fired high into the net after being set up by Pounder.
Visiting keeper Tom Orton made a fine save to keep out a Reece Kenney free-kick before Brandon levelled close to half-time, with Kieran Duffy-Weekes latching onto a long ball forward and cleverly lobbing keeper Kyle Donaldson.
Brandon went ahead in the 56th minute when Dan Quine finished off after Anthony Philipson got the better of Lewis Turnbull.
But Colliery equalised five minutes later, Pounder stabbing home a Peter Jones pass. Pounder then secured the winner with a powerful header from Aidan Goodey’s free-kick in the 72nd minute.
Brandon had James Moore sent off late on.
In the dying seconds, Bryan Norton hit the bar for Easington and Pounder converted the rebound, only to have his hat-trick chalked off for offside.
The Colliers are seventh in the table.
Stockton Town were crowned champions, thanks to a 2-1 win at runners-up Team Northumbria.
They took the lead on 21 minutes when Max Craggs scored. Andrei Ardelean equalised in the 70th minute, but, seven minutes later, Adam Nicholson headed home the Stockton winner.
Billingham Synthonia played their last ever game at Central Avenue and will leave with fond memories, after they were promoted following a 2-0 win over troubled Willington.
Chay Liddle fired them in front in the 55th minute and Nathan Steel made it 2-0 16 minutes later, with Synners’ final goal at the ground.
Esh Winning maintained their bid to avoid bottom spot, and potential relegation, by picking up a point in impressive fashion.
The Waterhouses outfit came back from 2-0 down against Billingham Town to draw 2-2.
Town, whose promotion hopes are over, were 2-0 ahead when prolific marksman Craig Hutchinson and Connor Dunlavey scored.
But a Michael Soulsby penalty and an 85th minute equaliser from Kai Hewitson earned Esh a point in their final match of the season.
They are on 28 points, one ahead of Ryton & Crawcrook Albion, who have one match left, at home to sixth-bottom Thornaby on Wednesday.
Ryton will go into that crucial match in good spirits after recording only their sixth win of the season with a 1-0 weekend win at Hebburn Town.
The winner came in the 36th minute, when Philip Hodges shot went through goalkeeper Callum Smith’s legs.
Tow Law Town ensured that Darlington RA remain in the bottom three, after beating their visitors 5-1.
Two goals from Kelvin Thear and further strikes from Jordan Lee, Matty Moffat and Dean Thexton, put the Lawyers 5-0 up before RA’s David Harrison scored a late consolation=.
Crook Town secured a point from an entertaining 4-4 draw away to Bedlington Terriers in their penultimate matchj.
Two goals from Lee Scott, backed by strikes from Sam Norris and Chris Armstrong, gave the Terriers a 4-2 lead, but two-goal Christian Holliday, Callum Johnson and Callum Pigg rescued a draw for the Millfield battlers.
Thornaby edged a 1-0 victory away to Alnwick Town., with Sammy Perez on target 15 minutes from time.
Fourth-top Heaton Stannington won 2-1 at Blyth Town but saw their promotion ambitions end.
Heaton took the lead through Gary Yates’s 25th-minute strike, but Gary Day equalised from the penalty spot after 35 minutes.
Yates struck six minutes from time for the visitors’ winner.
Sixth-placed Whickham and Northallerton, in 11th, played out a 1-1 draw.
Daniel Jones had the visitors ahead until the 79th minute, when Mark Fitzpatrick was brought down in the box and he stepped up to score from the resulting penalty.