IVY Legends enjoyed the perfect finale to their Fourth Division season, outgunning Chaplins 7-3 to avenge their recent cup exit.
Yet it all looked so different at the start of the match as the visitors set off at pace to assert their superiority and Ivy looked on their way to a last-game walloping.
A catalogue of errors in the first 10 minutes, capped by a harsh penalty award, saw the hosts 3-0 down and staring into the abyss.
The evergreen John Younghusband was forced to enter the fray after Tony Ross suffered an adverse reaction to the race night he attended at Ashbrooke the night before.
Smithson was forced to drop back into the back four and his experience began to tell as Ivy settled and began to get a grip on the game.
No one expected what was to follow, though, and a truly memorable fightback got underway when twinkle toes Jason Pettits pulled a goal back before Michael Cleugh capped a fine display with a goal and then won a penalty. Chaplins’ keeper made a great save, though, and it was left to the veteran Younghusband to curl a spectacular shot into the bottom corner to see the sides level at half-time.
Buoyed by their resurgence, Ivy played some sparkling football to smash a further four goals without reply, with Cleugh notching his hat-trick, while Dave Dixon and the lively Phil Boyle also notched.
Ivy’s reformed back four were ably marshalled by Les “Sat Nav” Dunn, man of the match on his farewell appearance before disappearing into the sunset – though who knows where he will end up as he always got lost on the way to away games!
Rolls-Royce moved into second place thanks to a fine 2-1 win at Waldridge Park, moving two points clear of Sedgefield Black Lion, with both sides having two games to play.
Lion were held 0-0 at fourth-top Woodhorn Lane.
Champions Oddies ended their season with an 18th win in 24 league games, beating Newcastle East End 2-1.
Washington Cross Keys had to beat Billingham Swan to stand any chance of staying in the Premier Division.
Unfortunately for Keys, they lost 1-0 to a fluke of a goal from Phil Gordon deep into the second half.
The game was mainly played in midfield, with few shots at goal. Washington keeper Graham Hutton did, however, produce an amazing save with his left foot to keep out a powerful header from Gary Warrior.
The game was won when a Gordon cross floated over the keeper and dropped in at the back post.
Andrew Lumsden was star man for Washington, who will now be relegated to the First Division.
Bottom club Easington CIU lost 2-1 at home to Cramlington Burton House in their final top-flight match.
CIU played really well and pushed the Northumberland side all the way.
A well-worked goal that started from the back put them in front on 16 minutes. Graham Langthorne and Davy Banks were involved before Greg Hoyland swung in a cross for Norman Hird to finish from 12 yards.
It was the hour mark before title hopefuls Cramlington levelled, and they broke CIU’s hearts with a winner three minutes into injury time. Kenny Lynch and Hoyland starred.
Red House WMC rocked leaders Marden with a 1-1 draw, but Marden rallied to beat South Shields 1-0 in midweek, moving them 13 points clear of Cramlington, who have five matches in hand.
Steels SC slipped to seventh place after a 4-2 home loss to Blyth Sea Horse.
First Division champions Penshaw Catholic Club completed their season in style, beating Dubmire 3-0, with their visitors still in danger of the drop.
Ryhope Foresters edged a 1-0 midweek win over Pelton Crown to join their opponents on 38 points, albeit with three more games to play and with a slight chance of a top-two finish.
Second Division champions Wearmouth CW were held to a 0-0 draw by battling visitors CSSC Darsley Park, while fellow Sunderland side Blue House are guaranteed to finish in the bottom two after succumbing 3-0 at Cobblers Hall.
Houghton Cricket Club will go down with them, despite picking up two draws, 3-3 at second-top North Ormesby Vets and 1-1 at home to South Shields Catholic Club.
Wingate Cons Club secured a fine 3-1 win over Peterlee Helford.
Wingate made a bright start and took the lead when Kevin Taylor poked the ball home, then Taylor made it 2-0 as Helford failed to clear their lines.
The visitors got a goal back when Alan Revie’s pace was too much for the home defence and he was brought down in the box. John Butterfield stepped up to convert the spot-kick.
Wingate, though, hit the clinching third goal before the break, with great closing down by Malcolm Fallow leading to Taylor completing his hat-trick.
Hylton CW slipped to seventh place after their 1-1 draw with North Shields Pineapple, as Durham Stonebridge leapfrogged them with a 5-2 defeat of Blakelaw SC.
Promoted Horden Sportsmans now have their sights on the Third Division title.
A 3-1 win over Redcar Old Boys kept them on course, two points ahead of Thornley Celtic with two games to go.
Billy Scott rounded the keeper to put Horden in front, but they unfortunately lost their star striker to a bad injury soon after.
Craig Griffiths doubled their lead with a well-worked strike before Redcar rallied, after a defensive error. Gary Ferguson, though, headed the clinching third goal for Horden, whose star man was Lee Davis.
Thornley kept pace with a 1-0 midweek victory at Richmond Town and a 9-2 romp at Trimdon Vets.
Mill View WMC, in third, finished their excellent campaign with a 2-0 win at Washington JFC Biddick Inn, while Willow Pond secured a stunning 3-1 win in their relegation six-pointer at Shildon Grey Horse to climb to fourth-bottom spot.
The Philadelphia were pipped 2-1 at Wallsend Winstons.