SEAHAM Red Star lost ground in the Northern League Second Division promotion race when they went down 2-1 to Whickham, for whom Liam Barnett scored both goals.
Chris McCabe had levelled for Red Star, who remain third behind North Shields and Heaton Stannington.
Birtley Town stayed fourth but they had their work cut out before defeating bottom-of-the-table Washington in the local derby.
At half time, Birtley led through Callum Hope and Jordan Lavery and looked on course for victory. The Newtowners, though, retaliated with a David Southern goal on 50 minutes and from then on it was nip and tuck.
Chester-le-Street made it three wins on the bounce when Michael Hepplewhite, Michael Roberts and an 89th-minute penalty by Tony Healer earned them a 3-1 victory at home to Alnwick Town, for whom Keiran Hogg had equalised.
North Shields moved into pole position with victory at Norton and Stockton Ancients courtesy of goals by leading scorer Gareth Bainbridge and Dan Smart. Nicholas Martin was an early marksman for the Teessiders.
Dean Thexton (2), Anth Lee (2) and Simon Ord swept Tow Law Town to an easy win at home to Stokesley SC. The Lawyers are now sixth – their highest rating so far.
Jarrow Roofing, who have played fewer games than any other side, made it six wins out of eight when they comfortably saw off second-bottom Ryton and Crawcrook Albion thanks to goals by Liam McBryde (2), Andy Appleby and Dan Kirkup.
Michael Pooley scored a consolation for the hosts.