It’s an old cliché, but Washington, knocked out of the FA Cup and the FA Carlsberg Vase in quick succession last month, can actually concentrate on establishing themselves as a real force in the First Division.
Stephen Hutchinson’s Mechanics are making a good fist of it, too. In their first season in the top flight, they are the only unbeaten side and, following Saturday’s cosy 3-0 victory over Norton and Stockton Ancients at Nissan, are third top.
Chris Winn and John Butler headed them into a two-goal interval lead and, when Winn struck again early in the second half, it was all over for the Teessiders.
Sunderland RCA have not reached the heights Washington have achieved so far, but they are well pleased with the progress they have continued to make under manager Martin Swales
RCA more than held their own away to title-chasing visitors Guisborough Town and fully deserved a share of the points in a 2-2 draw.
Luke Bythway gave the hosts a seventh-minute lead and after Steve Callen levelled, Danny Earl restored the Guisborough advantage.
But the Meadow Park men’s never-say-die men fought tooth and nail and took a point when Joe Melvin unleashed a tremendous 25-yard shot into the roof of the net four minutes from time.
Seaham Red Star have their sights set on the middle of the table following a 3-1 win at second-bottom Bedlington Terriers.
Paul Gardiner, Liam McBryde and Dan Robinson were on target for Mark Collingwood’s team. Although Ryan Drane managed a goal for Terriers, they were always second best.
So, too, were Durham City – especially in the second half against Newton Aycliffe at New Ferens Park.
The first 45 minutes failed to produce a goal, but, after the break, the Citizens shot themselves in the foot with culpable defending.
Zak Boagey (2), Dennis Knight (2) and Jack Gibson made City pay the penalty as Aycliffe romped to a 5-0 victory.
Shildon continue to lead the table after edging Ashington with goals by Lewis Wing and Gary Brown. Ben Harmison threw the Colliers a lifeline, but Shildon held on for a 2-1 win.
Morpeth Town have lost just once – a record bettered only by Washington – and they kept the pressure on the leaders with a 3-1 victory at home to Jarrow Roofing.
Michael Chilton (2) and Jordan Nellis were the match winners, with captain Alex White credited with Roofing’s only success.
Consett beat West Auckland 3-1, watched by a crowd of 449, thanks to Luke Sullivan, Michael Sweet and Michael Mackay, with Tom Marron replying.
The Northern League’s last FA Cup hope, Whitley Bay, fell at the third qualifying round stage on Saturday, following a dramatic 3-2 defeat to Chorley at Hillheads.
Adam Shanks’ sublime lob had Bay ahead at half-time in front of 782 fans, but their National League North visitors stormed back to lead 2-1, thanks to Andy Bond and Jake Cottrell.
Shanks equalised, but Darren Stephenson denied the hosts a replay with an 80th-minute winner.