DUBMIRE moved up to fourth-bottom spot in the First Division after a hard-earned 3-3 draw at Grindon Broadway.
Merritt scored an easy fifth-minute goal for relegation-threatened Dubmire, but Paul Griffiths levelled with a fierce strike from 20 yards, after beating three defenders, 12 minutes later.
Lowly Willow Pond gave neighbours Mill View WMC a major setback in their Third Division promotion push
Griffiths produced a brilliant left-foot shot to put Grindon 2-1 up, but Duffy quickly equalised. David Taylor hit Broadway’s third on 62 minutes, but Merritt levelled despite looking offside.
Leaders Penshaw Catholic Club are making life difficult for themselves as they try to tie down a promotion place.
They suffered a setback by going down 2-1 to Gateshead Rutherford, who rose from bottom spot with their surprise victory.
Rutherford converted a hotly contested penalty to make the breakthrough, but full-back Martin Cowell levelled. Rutherford, though, grabbed a winner five minutes from time.
Jeff Tudor played well for beaten visitors, who stayed two points clear as closest challengers Heaton Stannington lost 3-2 to fourth-placed Wallsend Community.
Lowly Willow Pond gave neighbours Mill View WMC a major setback in their Third Division promotion push, edging home 3-2 in an entertaining clash.
A mix-up between the defence and the stand-in keeper enabled a Willow forward to nip in and score after just five minutes, and their lead was doubled shortly after when a fine free-kick was curled into the top corner of the net.
Mill responded well and created a number of chances before half-time, but they could not find a way through a resolute Pond defence.
Mill started the second half on top and deservedly pulled one back when Gary Hodgson converted a penalty following a handball offence in the box. Mill pushed for an equaliser but were hit on the break as Pond went 3-1 up.
Dave Naughton headed home a pinpoint Gary Wright corner to set up a tense finish, but Willow held out to claim three precious points in their fight for survival.
Thornley Celtic eased four points clear with a hard-fought 5-3 defeat of Hartlepool Stag & Monkey, who did well after falling three goals down in 25 minutes.
Second-top Horden Sportsmans were held 1-1 at fourth-placed Fiddlers Three, while The Philadelphia drew 0-0 with Hedworthfield Red Hackle.
Oddies need just two points form their final two matches to be crowned champions of Division Four, following an 8-0 drubbing of depleted Billingham Vets.
The Teessiders kicked off with only 10 men and were down to nine fit players by the 20th minute. Oddies capitalised to score four goals in each half, with man of the match Ralphy Dodds grabbing a hat-trick.
Rolls-Royce, sitting third, maintained their promotion push by winning 2-0 at fourth-top Woodhorn Lane, while second-placed Sedgefield Black Lion won 2-1 at Colonel Prior.
Chaplins succumbed 4-1 on their visit to Waldridge Park, after making a very bright start and going ahead with a smart finish.
Gary Wakefield produced a mazy dribble and careful finish to equaliser, then three second-half strikes ensured victory, withTommy Barrett’s penalty added to by a Darren Burnham header and a long-range John Lines effort from the centre circle.
Bottom club Easington CIU played really well to defeat Ferryhill Greyhound 3-1, recording their first win of the season in the Premier Division.
All four goals came in a dramatic 12-minute spell in the opening quarter of the game. Man of the match Greg Hoyland and David Banks combined to set up Anthony Ward for CIU’s opener, then Ward slid in his second from a Lee Stockport cross.
Ferryhill reduced the arrears only for Easington to hit straight back with a killer third goal. Ward was the supplier this time, slipping the ball through for David Swan to score.
Steels SC suffered defeat in a a scrappy game at Hebburn Town. Few chances were created, but a touch of class from Darren Palmer, a sweetly struck left-foot shot into the bottom corner, gave Hebburn the points.
Joe Donaghy stood out for Hebburn, with Anthony Nelson top man for Steels.
Red House WMC climbed to fourth place thanks to a 2-1 win over Billingham Swan.
Wingate Cons Club secured a fine away win at Coxhoe Red Lion to boost their survival chances in Division Two.
Kevin Taylor poked home a pass from Barry Speckman for an early lead, but Lion levelled. In a tight second period, Paul Bestford danced through the Coxhoe defence and beat the keeper for a dramatic, late winner.
Hylton CW moved fifth with a 4-0 success at Seaham, while Humbledon & Plains Farm defeated bottom club Houghton Cricket 3-0. Blue House moved a point ahead of the cricketers thanks to a 1-1 draw at South Shields Catholic Club, who are not out of the drop battle themselves.
Peterlee Helford climbed one place to 11th, following a 2-1 victory at Blakelaw SC.
David McAteer gave them the lead at the break and Paul Watson extended it midway through the second period, with the Tynesiders replying 10 minutes from time.
Meanwhile, the Kip Watson Villa Real Cup final will see Hartlepool Touchdown take on Premier rivals Cramlington Burton House.
Cramlington edged a 1-0 win at North Ormesby Vets, while Touchdown had Lee Crosby and Neil Kennedy to thank for a 2-1 semi-final triumph against Marden.