MANAGER Neil Hixon faced a defensive crisis against Penrith, but his makeshift rearguard proved adequate in easing Sunderland RCA to victory in the EBAC Northern League.
The Cumbrians’ scoring opportunities were limited and when the Wearsiders carved out a couple of chances they were happily accepted by predator Gavin Barton and Andy Appleby.
After going behind and then leading, Durham City shared the points following a hugely entertaining game with Whitley Bay at Hillheads.
Gary Shaw was an early scorer and the Citizens remained in front until the 57th minute when Brian Smith levelled.
Paul Chow then fired the Seahorses into the lead, but Dickie Ord’s side deservedly claimed a point with an equaliser from Scott Fenwick.
South Shields made it 10 goals in two games when they blitzed Hebburn Town courtesy of a superb hat-trick by Peter Kane and one strike from Glen Ford.
Darlington 1883 extended their lead at the top of the table to six points when Joe Tait, Shaun Reay (pen) and Connor Lowe struck at Dunston UTS, who are in the unaccustomed position of second from bottom.
Newton Aycliffe are now at the basement after losing at Newcastle Benfield for whom Dan Taggart scored the only goal while Billingham Town moved off the bottom as they claimed their first points of the season.
Craig Norman, Nicky Martin, Glen Butterworth and Jamie Owens netted with Nathan Evans and Lee Bythway replying for Guisborough Town.
In-form Bedlington Terriers made it 17 goals in three games when they hit Billingham Synthonia for six. Phil Bannister (2), Paul Brayson (2), Steve Bowey and Kris Gate were the marksmen.
In Division Two, Ryhope CW go marching on although they had to pull out all the stops to see off fourth-placed Whitehaven.
Two goals by Phil Hall and Richard Jordan in the opening 10 minutes gave Martin Swales’ side a dream start but the Cumbrians hit back to level, thanks to Matt Tymon and Kevin Connelly.
The Wearsiders finished strongly though to end 5-2 winners with a brace from Chris Winn and one goal by John Butler.
There was a welcome win for Horden CW. After conceding 12 goals in their two previous matches, they kept a clean sheet and a Paul Johnson strike won the day against Esh Winning.
Washington also arrested a losing sequence when a hat-trick by Dean Walker was the feature at Thornaby. Mark Covell also struck with Richie Walker and Gary Mitchell finding the net for the Teessiders.
Chester le Street led through Alan Lee but had to settle for a point at home to West Allotment Celtic for whom Mark Nixon levelled but both Seaham Red Star and Birtley Town conceded five times.
Red Star couldn’t halt Northallerton Town’s early-season promotion challenge although Michael Pegram did manage to reply twice to Carl Chillingsworth (2), Adam Empson, Gavin Parkin and Steve Butterworth.
Following a promising start, Birtley Town are now third from bottom. Warren Byrne (2), Craig Hughes, Kevin Devine and Craig Price led Crook Town to an easy win with Birtley’s reply coming from Luke Wilson.