EASINGTON Colliery eased their position near the bottom of the Wearside League table when they were the only side in the bottom six to win on Saturday.
It was a close call though against rival strugglers Boldon CA and an only goal was all that separated the sides.
With time running out, the Colliers were awarded a penalty when Brett Gillatt was fouled. Farren Pope stepped forward and beat Boldon goalkeeper Andrew Ebdale.
Annfield Plain are immediately below Easington on goal difference after they were hit for six by fifth-top Richmond Town for whom the Darville brothers starred.
Liam gave his side an early lead with a delicate chip past Plain goalkeeper Grant Scott and soon afterwards Ben struck following a defence-splitting pass by Kalumn Holbrook.
Just before the interval, Ben tapped in a Michael Layfield cross and although the visitors improved defensively in the second period, they conceded another three times in the last eight minutes.
Substitute Adam Emson rounded Scott after being set free by Holbrook who was again the provider for Michael Layfield to finish with a bullet header.
Just before the end, Ben Darville completed his hat-trick with a diving header.
Boldon CA are fourth from the basement and Gateshead Leam Rangers are also embroiled in the battle at the bottom.
Despite holding Stockton Town to a single goal until the 77th minute, they then leaked a further two.
Adam Nicholson headed in Scott Meehan’s corner on nine minutes and 13 minutes from time Stephen Roberts ended Leam’s hopes of an upset when he struck from close range.
With the game into added time Kallum Hannah was brought down and he stepped forward to fire past goalkeeper Ryan Docherty from the spot.
Hartlepool are just off the bottom by virtue of having a better goals difference than Coxhoe Athletic.
Pools had the incentive of a 28th-minute goal from debutant Dean Magill against fourth-top Redcar Athletic who restored parity with a fine individual effort from James Swann.
Midway through the second period Swann was again on target for the winner, crashing the ball into the top corner of the net and giving Pool’s goalkeeper Robert Clerihew no chance.
Seaton Carew were in scoring form at home to Jarrow, who fielded a much-weakened side.
After holding their own for half an hour, the South Tynesiders conceded three goals in mine minutes just before the interval.
Luke Naylor went past two defenders and Matthew Kelsey converted a cross before Craig Hutchinson struck after a short corner. Sam Cook made it three, drilling a left-foot shot from the edge of the penalty area past goalkeeper Richard Swan.
Jarrow suffered another blow on 75 minutes when David Graham was red-carded for a handling offence but they survived the penalty award when Swan denied Craig Garthwaite.
A fourth goal was only delayed until the 89th minute when David Wilson latched onto a pass from Kelsey and once again Swan was powerless to save.
Prudhoe Town’s new management duo of Andrew Clarkson and Lee Best celebrated at Wolviston where Stephen Foster scored the only goal, chesting the ball over the line after Paul Oxley’s free-kick had rebounded from the crossbar.