Washington go into the holiday programme buoyant after racking up three wins on the bounce and moving into fifth place in Division One.
Unbeaten in the first 10 games, the Mechanics took just one point from the next five, but manager Steve Hutchinson reckons they are back on course following a hard-earned 2-1 victory over Dunston UTS at Nissan.
He said: “Conditions were difficult. The pitch was heavy and there was a strong wind, so I was delighted the way the lads approached the game.
“To beat Dunston, who are now just one point above us and we’ve got three games in hand, proves that we have a good side. Nobody can deny we didn’t deserve our win.”
Washington could hardly have made a better start – they were awarded a penalty with just six minutes on the watch.
The outstanding Chris Winn, who tormented the Dunston defence all afternoon, was bundled over and captain Mark Davison confidently beat Liam Connell from the spot.
Dunston, though, quickly hit back and Aristote Guerin Lakonga equalised from close range.
Just before the interval, Hutchinson’s side was again in front. Winn pounced when Connell palmed a free-kick by Davison and set up John Butler, who slotted home from four yards.
Both teams had chances in the second period and, towards the end of the game, Dunston threw players forward, but the Mechanics defence stood firm for a well-earned win.
Despite a lack of goals, Sunderland RCA and West Allotment Celtic produced a cracking game at Meadow Park.
Both goalkeepers – RCA’s Andrew Hunter and Celtic’s Jak Wells – were outstanding and made several stunning saves.
Wells denied Colin Larkin and Stephen Callen in quick succession and, in the second period, Hunter pulled off three great stops before he somehow managed to keep out a Marc Walton effort in the last minute, ensuring a goalless draw.
Durham City succumbed to West Auckland, who have clawed their way off the foot after strengthening the side.
Harvey Saunders and Michael King went close for the Citizens, who were rocked when West scored twice in the space of three minutes.
Jack Proctor and Adam Burnicle pounced to earn West a 2-0 win, and another three crucial points. Although they are still in the drop zone, sitting third from the basement, they can now see light at the end of what has so far been a dark tunnel.
Bedlington Terriers are second-bottom, ahead of Norton and Stockton Ancients. Sam Nellis, with a brace, and Adam Shanks earned Whitley Bay, who are also too near the basement for comfort, three priceless points at the expense of Bedlington.
Tonight, FA Carlsberg Vase holders North Shields face a daunting trip to Runcorn Town for a third round replay. Their preparations went well on Saturday when an only goal by Peter Glen-Ravenhill proved sufficient to win 1-0 at Newton Aycliffe.
Anthony Bell’s last-minute penalty earned Shildon a 1-1 draw in a tough clash at Guisborough Town, who led with a Steve Snaith strike.
Bishop Auckland’s game at Marske United was among four top-flight postponements.