SUNDERLAND West End took Ebac Northern League-bound Willington to the wire before losing a tense Wearside League game by the odd goal in five at Hall Lane last night, writes MALCOLM PRATT.
Table-toppers Willington went ahead after 27 minutes with Jason White driving the ball into the net from close range but it was West End who went in ahead at the interval.
Michael Weston deflected a corner into his own net for the equaliser and two minutes later Ross Kennedy produced a tremendous finish with a 20-yard free-kick that beat the wall and goalkeeper David Moffat.
Willington levelled with a good 52nd-minute shot from Adam Pinkney and 15 minutes later he emulated Kennedy with a long-range free-kick which flew into the net.
Willington remain one point ahead of Stockton Town, who have a game in hand and a vastly superior goal difference as the pair battle it out for the championship.
It was a close call for the Teessiders at home to third-top Richmond Town, though, with Tom Atkinson’s ninth-minute strike proving decisive.
Stockton had Adam Nicholson sent off and they endured a nervous final seven minutes but held on for three crucial points.
Ashbrooke Belford House conceded an 88th-minute equaliser to Prudhoe Town at Silksworth.
When Stephen Callan was brought down, Stephen Bogie converted Belford’s 17th-minute penalty opener, but two minutes from time John Clarkson earned Prudhoe a point.
With almost the last kick of the game, Ashbrooke were within a whisker of claiming victory when Asa Dobbing’s strike hit the crossbar.
Easington Colliery dropped to second-bottom spot when Annfield Plain leap-frogged them with a 5-2 victory at Derwent Park.
Scott Goldsmith-Scott rifled a hat-trick for Plain, with Scott Heslop and Mike Allen also on target. Keiran Getting and Paul Muir replied.
Jarrow also went nap to sink visitors Darlington Cleveland Bridge. Grant Pressling and Peter Kane each bagged braces, with Daryl Turnbull also netting.
Despite scoring first through Chris Baxter, Coxhoe Athletic went down 2-1 at Wolviston, for whom Michael Lee levelled before Ian Danby hit an 81st-minute winner.
Redcar Athletic, who were twice two goals ahead, had to settle for a 3-3 draw as Leam Rangers rallied.
Richie Playforth, Adam Preston and Jamie Lee were Redcar’s marksmen, with Chris Lowther (2) and Nicky Langston replying for the Tynesiders.
The league’s leading scorer, Leigh Dunn of Cleator Moor Celtic, was again in exhilarating form, hitting five goals in a 6-1 drubbing of luckless Hartlepool. Robert Hammon’s strike proved sufficient for Seaton Carew to beat Kirkbymoorside 1-0.