SATURDAY was a good day all round for Easington Colliery in the race to finish as runners-up – and potentially promotion back to the Northern League.
They comfortably defeated visitors Sunderland West End, and rivals Horden CW were well beaten at Redcar Athletic.
An early goal by Shane O’Brien gave Easington the platform on which to build a 3-0 victory over West End, whose hopes of saving the game just about ended when they conceded twice in four early second-half minutes.
Bryan Norton challenged West End goalkeeper Neal Bussey and it was the striker who came out on top when he fired the rebound into an empty net.
Norton was then the provider for Dale Spence to make it three and, from then on, Easington coasted to victory.
They remain in second place, now three points ahead of East Durham neighbours Horden with three games in hand and a significantly better goal difference.
Horden’s chances of finishing second receded at Redcar Athletic.
Alex Maphosa fired the Seasiders ahead on 35 minutes and, at this stage, Colliers’ goalkeeper Chris Davison was shown a straight red card for protesting.
Max Stoker took over in goal and, after making a superb save from Alex Anderson, could not prevent Adam Preston and Michael Woodhouse completing a 3-0 home win.
Cleator Moor Celtic, who played in the Cumberland County Cup, are the only other side in with a realistic chance of pipping Easington for the runners-up spot. They are four points adrift, but with a game in hand.
Stockton Town, meanwhile, took another step on their relentless surge towards a third consecutive championship.
They’d never won in Cumbria but overwhelmed Whitehaven as the goals flowed in a 5-0 win from top marksman Kallum Hannah, with a brace, Chris Stockton, Macaulay Longstaff and Tom Coulthard.
Silksworth CW were unable to halt Wolviston’s resurgence. Until recently, the Teessiders were at the bottom of the table but they are now up to third from the basement after defeating the Wearsiders 5-3.
Ryan Hebb (2), Ian Danby, Shaun Gregory and Dave Johnson (pen) all beat Silksworth goalkeeper Joe Clayton, with Andy Place (2) and Liam Gill replying.
After trailing at the interval, through strikes by Ross Morrow and Nathan Burrell (own goal), Ashbrooke Belford House hit back to claim a well-deserved 2-2 draw at home to Spennymoor Town Reserves.
Josh Farquhar scored directly from a corner and substitute Sam Robinson levelled just past the hour mark.
Annfield Plain have a bit to do if they are to avoid the wooden spoon following a 3-0 defeat at Boldon CA, whose marksmen were Liam Wooton (2) and Neil Crammond, they prop up the table, seven points behind Leam Rangers.
Andrew Wilkinson’s strike earned Jarrow the points at home to Leam, who dropped a place and are now a point behind Wolviston.
Sam Cook’s brace eased Hartlepool to a 2-1 victory at Harton and Westoe CW, who levelled through Jack Burrell at one point.
Richmond Town claimed a 94th-minute winner through Mark Sims, with his second goal of the match, at Prudhoe Town, where Tom Hutchinson also netted in a 3-2 success. Stephen Foster and Aaron Fletcher netted for Prudhoe.