RYHOPE CW are now only six points behind EBAC Northern League Second Division leaders Crook Town with three games in hand following their victory over Birtley Town and the Millfield men’s defeat at North Shields.
And Martin Swales’ side received another boost to their promotion hopes when third-placed Jarrow Roofing were also defeated by Washington.
Ryhope made a dream start when they scored twice in the opening 10 minutes. Chris Trewick buried a shot past Birtley goalkeeper Andy Hunter from six yards.
Soon afterwards, John Butler produced an equally clinical finish to complete the scoring at 2-0.
Crook Town – beaten for the second successive game – suffered an early blow at the Daren Persson Stadium when player-manager Gary Pearson was shown a straight red card after just 10 minutes.
It wasn’t until the 51st minute that the Robins broke the deadlock. Leading scorer Rob Nolan latched onto a through ball and after shrugging off a defender, coolly slotted the ball past goalkeeper Barry Poskett.
Nolan was twice denied by Poskett before he made the points safe with his second goal on 83 minutes. Keiran Wrightson was the provider and Nolan skipped around Poskett before knocking the ball into the empty net.
North Shields are up to fourth and Jarrow Roofing stay third but are now four points behind Ryhope, the pair having played the same number of games. Roofing took an early lead through Anthony Myers, but mid-table Washington hit back to claim all three points with efforts from Daniel Young and Jake Leighton.
At the other end of the table, Horden CW lost the bottom-two clash with Alnwick Town by the odd goal in three.
James Jackson struck for the Northumbrians on 47 minutes before Gary Patterson conceded an own goal as he attempted to clear.
It was against the run of play when Alnwick scored the winner 11 minutes from the end. They were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area which Tony Brown slotted past keeper Stephen Hubery.
Seaham Red Star are in seventh position after sharing the points with Darlington RA, who are one place and two points ahead of them.
RA were twice in front courtesy of Martin Butterworth and Jordan Hanratty. Channon North was Red Star’s first scorer and there was only a minute remaining when Adam Pegram fired home after a Michael Coghlan free-kick had rebounded from the crossbar.
Chester-le-Street went down at Tow Law Town, who led through Chris Summers (own goal) and Thomas Watkinson. Michael Hepplewhite threw the Cestrians a lifeline with a 25-yard drive into the top of the net on 82 minutes, but Dan Wilson hit the third decisive goal for the Lawyers a minutes from time.
In Division One, Durham City are nine points clear of the relegation zone after comfortably defeating bottom-of-the-table Norton and Stockton Ancients. All three goals were scored in the opening half by Stephen Jones, Nick Allen and Matthew Scott.
Sunderland RCA are almost up to mid-table following victory at troubled Bedlington Terriers, who were recently served with a winding-up order.
Terriers named only 13 players, with Craig Baxter taking over in goal.
He was beaten three times, twice from the penalty spot by Jamie Clarke and late in the game by Josh Home-Jackson.
Mark Doninger made it 1-1, but RCA were leading by two goals before Chris Carr claimed a second for Bedlington in the 92nd minute.
Darlington 1883 now have an 18-points lead over West Auckland at the top.
The Quakers enjoyed an easy win at Newcastle Benfield with goals by Amar Purewal, Stephen Thompson, David Dowson and Stephen Johnson.
West Auckland moved above Spennymoor into second place with a 3-2 victory over fourth-top Whitley Bay.
An excellent game was decided in the 87th minute when John Campbell scored his second goal. Mattie Moffat also netted for West, with James Fairley and Bradley Brooking on the mark for Bay.
There’s no change at the basement although two of the bottom four won.
Norton prop up the table and South Shields are immediately above them after losing 1-0 to Billingham Synthonia, for whom Chay Liddle scored.
Billingham Town improved their survival chances with victory over Newton Aycliffe, thanks to strikes from Danny Brunskill, Danny Wray and Harrison Davies. Danny Earl and Danny Lambert replied for Aycliffe, who had Darren Craddock sent off for a professional foul.
Penrith are fourth from bottom and will take encouragement from their surprise win at Dunston UTS, who twice led through Lewis Teasdale and Andy Bulford. Kevin Connelly bagged a brace and Penrith were helped on their way to a crucial victory with an own goal from Michael Robson.