THERE was a mixed bag of results for Sunderland RCA, one of five sides battling to stave off relegation from the Ebac Northern League First Division.
Although Billingham Synthonia, who are immediately above RCA, lost, there were wins for Ashington and Newton Aycliffe.
West Auckland moved back to the top of the table
Synners went down to North Shields who were indebted to ace marksman Gareth Bainbridge.
His introduction as a substitute proved an astute move by manager Graham Fenton,
After Ryan Carr had given the Robins an early lead, they trailed to goals by Michael Sweet and Tommy Marron.
A shock result was a possibility but within two minutes of going on Bainbridge levelled and he then completed a hat-trick to cement a 4-2 victory.
Ashington moved further away from the drop zone with a surprise 4-3 win at Shildon who would have gone fourth-top had they won.
Glen Taylor was another player to record a hat-trick with Tony Stephenson also on target for Steve Harmison’s side. Ben Wood, Mark Doninger and Paul Connor replied for the Railwaymen.
Newton Aycliffe improved their chances of avoiding the drop when they coasted to a 4-0 win at Bedlington Terriers where Dennis Knight (2), Paul Garthwaite and Stuart Banks scored.
West Auckland moved back to the top of the table when Alex Francis and Mattie Moffat edged them home against Morpeth Town, who were in with a chance until the final whistle following Michael Chilton’s strike.
Crook Town were within seconds of causing the biggest upset of the season. They led Newcastle Benfield thanks to Callum Lough, Chris Hardy and Adam Emson going into added time.
Dan Taylor and Paul Brayson had netted for Benfield and it was ace marksman Brayson who volleyed in a 92nd minute equaliser.
Norton and Stockton Ancients will play Billingham Town in the final of the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup after defeating Team Northumbria with goals by Jack Proctor and Karl Charlton.
* Darlington 1883 regained top spot in the Evo-Stik League’s Division One North last night.
Former Sunderland striker David Dowson fired a fourth-minute opener for Martin Gray’s men at home to Lancaster City, setting up a 3-0 win which took the Quakers above Salford City on goal difference, as well as having a game in hand.
Thomas Portas added a second on 16 minutes before Leon Scott hit a last-gasp clincher to delight a crowd of 896 at Bishop Auckland’s Heritage Park.