Ryhope CW maintained their promotion push with a 10th win of the season on Saturday, becoming only the fourth side to score against Billingham Synthonia in the process.
Gary Pearson’s men secured a 2-1 home success to stay third, now just one point adrift of second-top Chester-le-Street with two games in hand.
Conor Winter and Josh Home Jackson eased Ryhope to the three points, with Chris Lawther replying for Synners who are sixth, having conceded only nine goals in 14 games.
Easington Colliery are also challenging for one of the three promotion places and they enhanced their prospects by comfortably defeating Esh Winning 3-0.
David Paul struck a superb direct free-kick past the wall and goalkeeper Mark Connell for the opener, and Luke Page chased a lost cause and crossed to Aidan Haywood, who beat the advancing keeper to double the lead.
The Colliers made the game safe with a late strike by Joe Kerridge, who was set up by Haywood.
Chester-le-Street now trail leaders South Shields by 11 points after losing 2-1 to fourth-placed Darlington RA.
Scott Heslop fired the Cestrians in front, but they conceded twice, to Andrew Grant Soulsby (own goal) and Rob Moncur, in the final 10 minutes.
South Shields attracted 1,115 spectators for their Mariners Park clash with Thornaby – and fans were not disappointed. The Mariners edged a seven-goal thriller 4-3 thanks to Lewis Teasdale’s hat-trick and a Ben Riding strike.
Impressive Thornaby, who took an early lead with a Nathan Steel penalty, were always in with a chance, courtesy of strikes by Wayne Phillips (og) and Daniel Lofts.
Stokesley SC, hammered 5-0 by Heaton Stannington, whose scorers were Jonathan Wright (3), Ben Telford and Peter Scott, prop up the table, with Esh Winning immediately above them.
Willington improved their chances of avoiding the drop, with Daniel Lee’s late penalty winner sinking Whickham 1-0. Crook Town, seeking a new manager following the departure of Gary Anderson and assistant Stephen Robinson, drew 0-0 with Team Northumbria.
Birtley Town lost 2-0 at Northallerton, whose marksmen were Aaron Ramsbottom and Shaun Ryder.