Ryhope CW’s eight-match winning sequence in Division Two came to an abrupt end on Saturday.
Fourth-top Team Northumbria showed their promotion intentions by running out 4-1 victors, with Damien Stevens grabbing Ryhope’s only goal with a well-struck shot from 20 yards, levelling at 1-1.
Gerard Richardson, with a neat chip over the keeper, Sammy Perez, Louis Storey (penalty) and Daniel O’Reilly steered Team Northumbria home
South Shields strengthened their grip at the top of the table with a 4-1 win over Alnwick Town.
Former Sunderland star Julio Arca found space and fired home from the edge of the box on 17 minutes, but Alnwick hit back with a 45th-minute equaliser from Jonathan Quinn.
The Mariners had the better of the second half and three goals flowed from Warren Byrne, Barrie Smith and Andrew Bulford.
Shields, top scorers with 68 goals, now lead second-top Ryhope by nine points, although the Wearsiders have a game in hand.
Neither Chester-le-Street nor Willington had managed to break the deadlock at Chester Moor Park when a floodlight failure resulted in the game being abandoned at half-time. The Cestrians stay third.
Easington Colliery are eighth following a 1-1 draw at home to Heaton Stannington, who led from the third minute with Matthew Hayton’s goal.
There were only six minutes remaining when the Colliers were awarded a penalty for a foul on David Paul, who tucked the spot-kick past goalkeeper Matthew Smith.
Birtley Town’s slump continued at bottom side Stokesley SC, who won for the first time this season.
Second-half strikes by Ben Jackson, James Rowe and Chris Horsley had the hosts celebrating, but Birtley remain third-bottom, five points ahead of Esh Winning, who occupy the second relegation place.
Despite scoring twice, courtesy of Daniel Mann and Liam Clark, Esh suffered a 16th defeat in 21 games as Mark Fitzpatrick (2) and Jordan Fraser eased Whickham to a 3-2 win.
At this time last year, Billingham Town were struggling, but they are now in the top half of the table after going nap against Tow Law Town with goals by Craig Hutchinson (2), Jamie Davison (2) and Foster Garten.