Chester-le-Street endured a chastening defeat in their first match back in Division One of the Ebac Northern League last night.
The Cestrians, who clinched promotion from Division Two last season, were thumped 6-0 away to defending champions Shildon.
David Ferguson, the former Blackpool skipper, netted twice as Shildon hit three goals either side of half-time to outgun their visitors. Mickey Rae, Anthony Bell (penalty), Billy Greulich Smith and Paul Connor also netted.
Chester now face a tough home clash with North Shields on Saturday.
Paul Brayson had Newcastle Benfield in front against Penrith, but the Cumbrians levelled when Kevin Connelly slid home.
In Division Two, Willington ended up winning a pulsating match 4-3 at home to Darlington RA, thanks to Jason White’s hat-trick and a Graham Stephenson strike.
Esh Winning lost 5-1 at home to Thornaby, who scored early on through Ryan Bennions. Matthew Robinson scored a hat-trick, netting on 23, 27 and 62 minutes, to make it 4-0.
Sam Mitchell then added a fifth before Phil Hayes replied late on.
Brandon United led with Wes Maddock’s goal at Northallerton, but the hosts rallied to draw 1-1, with David Onions converting a second-half penalty.
Anthony Peacock fired home a fine winner as Billingham Synthonia edged Crook Town 1-0.
Newcomers Blyth Town dominated in a 0-0 draw with Ryton & Crawcrook Albion.