Northern League: Tait cracker gives Mechanics hope in championship race

Sunderland RCA's Colin Larkin is outnumbered by two Sleaford defenders in their FA Vase clash
Sunderland RCA's Colin Larkin is outnumbered by two Sleaford defenders in their FA Vase clash
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Washington belatedly kicked off 2016 with three points, continuing where they left off in December.

A fourth successive First Division victory for Steve Hutchinson’s newly-promoted side, 1-0 against Consett, keeps them on track as surprise contenders for the championship.

It was a hard slog in more ways than one at the Nissan Sports Complex as Washington had only their second match since November 28.

The heavy pitch made it difficult and Consett showed their steel, successfully defending until the final few minutes. The nearest either side came to a goal was on the hour as Michael Sweet rattled the Washington bar and, with the game drifting towards full-time, a goalless draw looked the likely outcome.

But, four minutes from the end, a corner was only partially cleared to Michael Tait and he hit an absolute piledriver from 18 yards into the top corner of the net.

Immediately, Consett goalkeeper Peter Jeffries was sent off following an altercation with a home player and the Mechanics comfortably saw out the final stages for a crucial 1-0 victory.

They remain 10 points adrift of leaders Shildon, who defeated Whitley Bay 2-0 with goals by Ben Wood and Anthony Bell (penalty), but have three games in hand on the Railwaymen.

Guisborough Town, 4-3 winners at Jarrow Roofing with strikes by Curtis Round (2) and Connor Smith (2), are second. James Fairley rifled all three goals for Roofing but still ended on the losing side.

Morpeth, whose FA Vase tie was postponed, remain third and Dunston UTS are also in the mix following their 2-0 victory over Durham City.

Malcolm Morien has proved to be an excellent signing since joining Dunston from Jarrow Roofing last summer and he scored both goals.

Chris Moore’s Durham side were in better form than in previous games but have now taken only three points out of the last 21 and are just three points outside the relegation zone.

Seaham Red Star are comfortably placed just below halfway, but they will have been disappointed at conceding a three-goal lead to bottom-of-the-table Norton and Stockton Ancients.

Mark Collingwood’s side appeared to have all three points in the bag when they led with Ryan Noble’s brace and a David Palmer strike, but Thibaula Clarmay struck twice to narrow the gap.

Palmer then made it 4-2, but, in a barn-storming finish, the Teessiders claimed a crucial point with two goals in the last three minutes by Philip Caley and Ryu Williamson.

Norton are five points adrift of West Auckland, who were beaten 3-1 by Bishop Auckland on Friday night, but Bedlington Terriers improved their chances of escaping the drop by defeating West Allotment Celtic 3-0, thanks to goals from Tony Stephenson, Marc Walton and Michael Baxter.