Ryhope CW produced the best performance of the day when they held Ebac Northern League champions and leaders Shildon to a thrilling 3-3 draw at Dean Street.
And Gary Pearson’s side came within a whisker of causing an even bigger upset.
The game was into added time when Stephen Capper spared the blushes of the Railwaymen when his drive from the edge of the penalty area found the net.
Newly-promoted Ryhope made a rip-roaring start, taking the game to their illustrious opponents and deservedly claiming a 28th minute lead as Harvey Saunders lobbed goalkeeper Nick Liversedge.
David Ferguson soon levelled, his header finding the net via a post and, on the stroke of half-time, Ben Wood also chipped Chris Rookes to give the hosts the advantage.
Back came the Colliers and it was all square again on 48 minutes with Matty Weirs slotting the ball home from six yards.
Shildon showed their class and it took a backs-to-the-wall defensive performance to keep them out. But Ryhope were not overwhelmed and, in a breakaway, they went in front again with man of the match Saunders lobbing the keeper for a second time.
There were still 10 minutes remaining and lots of anxious moments, but, in the 91st minute, hopes of a memorable victory were dashed as Capper drove home from the corner of the box.
Although disappointed at failing to win all three points when they were so close, Ryhope can take a lot of positives from their display against a side which will surely challenge all the way to retain the title.
Ryhope host Sunderland RCA in a derby today (11am).
The season started so well for Chester-le-Street – but since that opening-day FA Cup win, there has been absolutely nothing to celebrate at Chester Moor Park.
The Cestrians were knocked out of the cup in the next round and five games have failed to yield a single point.
Saturday’s 6-0 mauling by big-spending South Shields leaves them at the bottom of the table, the only side without a point.
Just as worrying is the fact tha they have conceded 21 goals in five league games.
After going behind to Jon Shaw’s 18th minute strike, Colin Wake’s men were undone when they leaked three more goals in five minutes immediately before the interval.
Shaw, Carl Finnigan and David Palmer beat goalkeeper Jack Wilson, who had no respite in the second period either as Daniel Carson and Robbie Briggs took the Mariners’ total to six.
Washington are the only other side yet to win, but they have had just three fixtures.
Their second defeat came at Marske United, who went in ahead courtesy of Reece Kelly’s strike on 43 minutes.
The Mechanics were twice out of luck with the goal. First, goalkeeper Dale Connor parried an effort from Danny Earl unfortunately into the path of Andrew Ramsbottom who set up Kelly, and his follow-up shot took a deflection on its way into the net.
There was nothing fortunate about Marske’s clinching second goal, however. Although Connor got a touch to the ball, he couldn’t keep out Earl’s powerful drive.