WITH six games to play, Sunderland RCA are just seven points outside the drop zone in the Ebac Northern League First Division after crashing to a 5-1 defeat at Team Northumbria last night.
Two goals in five minutes from Robert Cavener and Jordan Marshall set Team on their way and when Phil Lumsden made it three on 55 minutes, Neil Hixon’s side faced a formidable challenge to save the game.
Gary Shaw threw them a lifeline after 70 minutes but Team soon regain the ascendancy and went nap with late strikes from John Sherlock and Marshall.
A saving grace for RCA is the fact that they are seventh from bottom with six teams below them also fighting to avoid joining Norton and Stockton Ancients, who look doomed, in Division Two.
Norton needed to defeat second-from-basement South Shields in last night’s crucial clash but the Mariners, who themselves looked down and out until recently, claimed another three critical points to raise their hopes of a great escape.
Jonny Wightman had a hand in both goals. On 35 minutes he split the Norton defence for Stephen Ramsey to drive past goalkeeper Jack Norton and when the Mariners were awarded a penalty five minutes later, Wightman found the net even though the despairing Norton did manage to get a hand on the ball.
Early in the second period, Andrew Harbron played in Dale Mulligan who cut the deficit but despite exerting late pressure, the Teessiders were unable to produce an equaliser and are now effectively 18 points from safety at this stage.
South Shields, though, are in with a real chance of retaining top-flight status. This was their fourth consecutive victory and they are now only six points adrift of Newton Aycliffe, who are just outside the relegation zone.
Marske United are looking over their shoulders, especially after going down to neighbours Guisborough Town for whom Martin O’Riordan scored the only goal in the 17th minute when he lobbed goalkeeper Dan Boswell.
In Division Two, Chester-le-Street had hoped to avenge last week’s narrow defeat by Northallerton Town in the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup when the sides again locked horns at Chester Moor Park.
The visitors, though, romped to a 5-1 victory despite conceding the opening goal to Michael Hepplewhite.
Once Michael Dunwell restored parity after 40 minutes, the visitors took control with Grant Hickman and Marcus Laing giving them the cushion of a two-goals lead before Adam Emson and Andrew Porritt took their side’s tally to five with two goals in the last minute.
Washington went down to Tow Law Town in a mid-table contest. Scott Thompson and Luke Parkinson struck within the space of a couple of minutes in the opening half and after an hour Parkinson was again on the mark.
It wasn’t until the 86th minute that Michael Latimer converted a penalty for Washington’s consolationgoal.
North Shields’ promotion aspirations took another knock in a 3-2 defeat by West Allotment Celtic who hit back courtesy of Michael Bell, Dean Lee and Paul Stoneman after Dean Holmes, with a brace, had given the Robins a two-goals interval lead.
H Bishop Auckland will meet Newcastle Benfield in the semi-final of the Brooks Mileson Memorial Cup after defeating Whitley Bay 5-4 on penalties at Heritage Park. Andy Johnson had an 85th-minute penalty saved by Whitley goalkeeper Kyle Hayes and the game was still goalless following extra-time.
The first penalty by Paul Chow was saved by Bishops’ goalkeeper Peter Jeffries, playing his 200th game, and Bishops went on to win 5-4.