WHAT a difference two months has made for Washington!
At the end of September they looked down and out, bottom of the Ebac Northern League Second Division with just one point from 10 games.
But following the appointment of Stephen Hutchinson as manager, the Newtowners have taken off and victory over high-riding Heaton Stannington on Saturday lifted them to seventh from the basement.
Their last 12 games have yielded 23 points and although they are not out of the woods yet, after Saturday’s excellent performance in a 3-1 success it’s surely onwards and upwards.
Stannington arrived at the Nissan Sports Complex just a point off the top of the table but met their match, although it wasn’t until late in the game that Washington’s victory was secured.
Michael Coughlin gave them a 10th-minute lead with a clinical finish and after Jonathan Wright levelled on 54 minutes with an easy tap-in, it was all to play for.
But Washington’s hopes rose as Anthony Ross fired across goalkeeper Shaun Backhouse in the 77th minute and three minutes later Paul Kane lobbed home for the crucial third goal.
North Shields, easy winners over Darlington RA with strikes by leading marksman Gareth Bainbridge (2), Dean Holmes (2) and Adam Scope, command a four-point lead and Seaham Red Star are third, now only a point behind Heaton Stannington.
Chris Scott fired Mark Collingwood’s team into an 18th-minute lead at Brandon United and, on the hour mark, Shaun Reay also beat goalkeeper Chris Sawyer to seal a 2-0 victory.
Birtley Town went nap at home to Alnwick Town to move back into the top half of the table.
Callum Hope, Matthew Soulsby, Dylan Morse, Daniel Taggart and Jordan Lavery were all on target, with Keith Douglas and Kevin Elliott claiming consolation goals for the Northumbrians.
Chester-le-Street leaked a last-minute equaliser and shared the points with South Shields at Chester Moor Park.
Damien Stevens converted a Joe Hamblin cross before Adam Burrell headed in the Mariners’ first equaliser. Chris Lock conceded an own goal attempting to clear and it looked as if the Cestrians would hang on to their narrow lead, but, in the 90th minute, Liam Clark levelled with a direct free-kick.
Jarrow Roofing’s promotion charge was halted by Willington, for whom David Pinkney, Corey Nicholson and Michael Weston struck.
Stephen Young was the only marksman for Roofing, who had Ian Dixon sent off in the 42nd minute.
In Division One, Sunderland RCA and Durham City fought out a goalless draw at Meadow Park.
There was an early chance for the hosts when Callum Patton was through on goal, but his attempted chip was saved by goalkeeper Lewis Brass.
RCA keeper Jonathan Carmichael made a good save to deny Matthew Scott and, midway through the second period, he again excelled to prevent Scott Fenwick from giving City the lead.
With only a minute remaining, Gavin Barton almost snatched all three points for RCA, but his goalbound shot was cleared off the line.
Hebburn Town produced the shock result of the season when they defeated previously unbeaten West Auckland Town by the odd goal in three.
After 54 minutes, Chris Goss headed in a Daniel Reeves free-kick and West were stunned again as Chris Smith struck from inside the six-yard box.
It wasn’t until added time that Warren Byrne lobbed Hebburn goalkeeper Gary Rogers, but his strike was too little too late to save West from conceding their unbeaten record.
It was Hebburn’s first win in 23 attempts, but it was not enough to lift them from second-bottom spot, although they are now three points ahead of Billingham Town.
The Teessiders scored four goals through Kieran Gething (2), Karl Charlton and Brian Harrison but still lost out to Penrith, who managed five from Philip Storey, with a brace, Martin Coleman, Steven Rigg and Jordan Little.
Team Northumbria are the other side in the relegation zone after they leaked an 89th-minute equaliser to Bedlington Terriers’ Paul King. Team Northumbria had led through captain Peter Watling from the second minute.
Shildon have a one-point lead at the top of the table. They were taken to the wire by Newcastle Benfield but secured victory when Jamie Harwood scored the only goal in the third minute.
Second-top Celtic Nation saw off Guisborough Town with strikes by Michael Rae, Nathan Luscombe and Paul Johnson. Late in the game, a brace by Michael Roberts threw the home side a lifeline but the Cumbrians held on.
Spennymoor Town, beaten by Consett on Friday night, stay third and Ashington are fourth after they also lost to Bishop Auckland whose matchwinners were the former Ryhope CW striker John Butler and Ian Maddison. Glen Taylor had given the Colliers the lead.