Ryhope CW claimed a magnificent win over leaders South Shields and the gap between the top two in the Second Division is now down to six points,.
Gary Pearson’s Ryhope also have a game in hand.
It was nip and tuck throughout the 98 minutes of action.
Nathan O’Neill headed Pearson’s side into a 20th-minute lead. David Gordon’s low corner was played back to him, and he curled in a delivery which O’Neill got his head to first.
But Lewis Teasdale quickly levelled, heading in past goalkeeper Chris Rookes from Danny Carson’s curling cross from the right.
On the hour mark, Mariners’ goalkeeper Scott Pocklington punched a Gordon corner into his own net, with Conor Winter making sure by forcing the ball over the line.
When Josh Home-Jackson made it 3-1, 12 minutes from time, Ryhope were on song. Stephen Francis’s ball through the centre was met by Home-Jackson and diverted low past Pocklington.
But, with seven minutes of normal time remaining, Shields’ recent signing from North Shields, John Grey, scored the goal of the game to throw his side a lifeline.
He delivered a stunning free-kick into the top corner which gave Rookes no chance and raised his side’s hopes that they could still take something from the match.
Soon after, Ryhope’s Damien Stevens ran through and forced Pocklington to make a crucial save.
Eight minutes of added time were played and there were anxious moments for Ryhope, who had Gordon sent off, but they held their nerve, despite strong claims for a penalty, and are now hot on the heels of the Mariners.
Chester-le-Street stayed third, but their promotion hopes hit a setback when they were beaten 3-1 by fifth-placed Team Northumbria, who are now only a point behind the Cestrians.
John Honour was an early scorer for the visitors, but Team hit back in the second period with two goals by Luke Hannant and one from Joel Bradley.
Easington Colliery are eighth but are still in with a shout of claiming one of the three promotion places.
Following a goalless opening half, they coasted past Willington 3-0 with strikes by Jack Devlin (2) and Aidan Haywood.
Willington remain fourth-bottom, two points ahead of Birtley Town, who were thrashed 6-1 at home by Heaton Stannington.
Adam Rowntree (2), Ryan Bailey, Sam Grieveson, Peter Scott and Shane Jones all beat Birtley goalkeeper Mark Fish, with Andrew Townsend converting a penalty reply.
Stokesley SC face a near-impossible task in their bid to avoid relegation.
They have taken only four points from 23 games following the latest defeat, 3-0 to second-bottom Esh Winning, whose matchwinners were Adam Ward, Nathan Graham and David Latham.