Armstrong strike takes RCA out of Northern League drop zone

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SUNDERLAND RCA moved out of the Ebac Northern League’s First Division relegation zone for the first time in several weeks when they claimed a crucial point at Penrith last night.

James Armstrong gave the Meadow Park men a 17th-minute lead following a free-kick, but within eight minutes the Cumbrians were level with a fine individual strike by Martyn Coleman.

Both sides had chances to take all three points, but a 1-1 draw was a fair result and sufficient to lift the Wearsiders above Billingham Synthonia.

With Crook Town already relegated and Celtic Nation almost certain to join them, RCA’s destiny is in their own hands since they have five more games to play than the troubled Synners.

West Allotment Celtic are fifth-bottom, just a couple of points in front of Martin Swales’ team and they, too, have fulfilled five more fixtures than the Wearsiders.

Their hopes of escaping the drop suffered a blow when they went down 2-0 to championship challengers Shildon, for whom John Brackstone and Paul Connor netted inside nine minutes.

Allotment were the better team in the second period, but their aspirations of saving the game wilted with the dismissal of Mark Dummett on 78 minutes.

Shildon moved into third place, only five points behind Guisborough Town and one adrift of West Auckland. The Railwaymen have three games in hand on both their rivals.

Guisborough maintained their challenge but surprisingly scored only twice at home to bottom club Crook Town, who have leaked 165 goals in 37 games. Danny Earl and James Risborough spared the leaders’ blushes.

In Division Two, Brandon United are destined to end with the wooden spoon.

Their improvement has come much too late and a 2-1 defeat by Northallerton Town, for whom Aaron Ramsbottom and Jamie Tunstall replied to Tom Callaghan’s penalty, leaves them well and truly stranded.