RYHOPE CW lost ground in their two-horse race with Crook Town for the championship when they were held to a draw at Thornaby.
Martin Swales’ side conceded first-half goals to Chris Burton and Jamie Blyth but then amazingly struck three times in as many minutes with two penalties from John Butler and a Jack Pounder strike.
Thornaby, though, hit back to take a 4-3 lead courtesy of Michael Murphy and Stephen Morrison but with only a minute left on the clock, Chris Winn restored parity.
Ryhope, with one game in hand on Crook, now trail the leaders by four points but they do have a considerably better goal difference.
Two sides who have been near the bottom of the table for most of the season are now safe from the threat of relegation. Brandon United eased past Stokesley SC with an only goal by Mark Cossavella.
Until recently, North Shields were in with a chance of making it into the top three but they are ending the season on a low note and they again crashed to defeat at Tow Law Town who romped to a 5-1 victory.
Rob Hurton rifled a hat-trick with Scott Brassell (pen) and Adam McVickers also scored. Adam Rowntree scored a consolation goal.
H Spennymoor Town reached the final of the Brooks Mileson Memorial Cup with a 2-1 win over Dunston UTS. Andrew Bulford fired the Tynesiders into a 50th-minute lead and after Lewis Dodds equalised, Moors failed with a penalty but in the 82nd minute, regular scorer Gavin Cogden hit the winner. Moors will now meet Newcastle Benfield in the final.