South Shields are now 11 points ahead in the Ebac Northern League Second Division following last night’s 3-1 victory at Birtley Town, their 15th straight win in all competitions.
The Mariners roared into a decisive three-goal lead by the 15th minute.
Andrew Bulford notched after just three minutes, with a deflected shot from David Foley’s cross.
Foley finished off a superb move to double the lead on 12 minutes, heading Wayne Phillips’ cross past keeper Dominic McMahon.
Stephen Ramsey made it three after a Robert Briggs shot came back off the post.
Birtley got a foothold on 21 minutes when a corner was headed goalwards and cleared off the line before Kieran Day touched it in.
Shields comfortably held onto a two-goal cushion.
Chester-le-Street are second and Ryhope CW third, while Billingham Synthonia are now up to fourth after defeating Hebburn Town, with strikes by Sonny Andrews and Chris Lawther.