The top five teams in Division Two all won, keeping the promotion pot boiling.
Ryhope CW – with games in hand on the other four contenders – consolidated fourth place with a hard-earned 2-1 win at Heaton Stannington.
The Wearsiders dominated play but fell behind when Elliott Woods was unfortunate to put through his own goal.
The Stann led until the second period when Kyle Davis struck twice in a couple of minutes. He levelled matters with a fine left-foot strike then grabbed the winner, blasting high into the net after Conor Winter’s shot came back off the post.
Chris Trewick and Winter were outstanding for Gary Pearson’s side, though David Gordon’s return from injury was cut short when he was substituted at the break.
South Shields – who attracted a bumper gate of 917 to Mariners Park – remain eight points ahead of second-top Billingham Synthonia following their victory over Birtley Town.
It wasn’t the anticipated goal-fest, however, and second-bottom Birtley held out until the 64th minute. They then conceded twice in three minutes to Robbie Briggs and David Foley.
Synthonia coasted to a 3-1 victory at Hebburn Town after building up a three-goal lead inside the hour with strikes by Matthew Osmond (2) and Max Craggs. It wasn’t until the 88th minute that captain Channon North beat Billingham goalkeeper Barry Poskett for Hebburn’s response.
Chester-le-Street made no mistake at lowly Crook Town and stay third.
The Millfield side did not help themselves by having Dan Smith sent off in the 20th minute, then Owen Lancaster saw red five minutes before the interval.
Michael Hepplewhite converted two penalties for Chester, with Ben Johnson and Craig Nichol taking the tally to 4-0.
Despite playing the entire second half with nine players, Crook prevented the visitors from scoring again and managed a consolation goal, notched by Mattie Soulsby.
Team Northumbria are also challenging for promotion and they kept alive their chances with a 2-1 victory away to Billingham Town, Jack Connor replying to strikes from David Dorman and Ben Dibb-Fuller.
Easington Colliery are sixth but almost certainly have too much to do. They defeated Thornaby 3-2 with goals by Bryan Norton (2) and Joe Kerridge, but still trail third-top Chester le Street by 14 points, with only 21 to play for.
At the bottom, Stokesley SC are all but doomed. They crashed to a 6-0 defeat at home to rival strugglers Alnwick Town, whose marksmen were Tony Brown (2), Jim Jackson, Darren Riddle, Lewis Robson and Jamie Dixon.
Birtley Town are now second-bottom, three points behind Esh Winning whose survival hopes were enhanced by a 2-0 victory at Tow Law, courtesy of goals by Paul Oxley and Luke Hogan.