Spennymoor close in on Consett at the top of the STL Northern League

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SPENNYMOOR Town closed in on STL Northern League First Division leaders Consett with a crucial victory in last night’s top four clash with Shildon at The Brewery field, writes Malcolm Pratt.

Following a goal-less first half Jason Ainsley’s side broke the deadlock on 64 minutes. The ball fell to Adam Johnston who cleverly lobbed Shildon goalkeeper Keith Finch.

Johnston produced another good finish after 75 minutes, his half volley eluding the outstretched Finch.

At this stage it appeared Moors were coasting to victory but two minutes from time Gary Brown thundered the ball into the top corner of the net.

Spennymoor held on and are now only five points behind Consett with two games in hand.

Norton moved into the top six for the first time with Craig Gott and James Owen sinking neighbours Billingham Town 2-0.

At the other end of the table second-bottom Esh Winning claimed a valuable point with a 3-3 draw against Jarrow Roofing.

An own goal by Paul Wardle and one from Stuart Thompson had Esh two up at half-time, but they were rocked by a superb hat-trick from Peter Watling. Andrew Carr equalised in the last minute.

North Shields defeated Morpeth Town 4-1 to move third, with Phil Cartwright, Andy Bowman, Michael Pattison and Chris Laws all scoring.

H Sunderland RCA boss Neil Hixon is forced into making at least two changes to his line-up for tonight’s Durham Challenge Cup Quarter Final tie at Gateshead Reserves.

John Ryan pulled a hamstring during Saturday’s defeat to South Shields while Leon Carling is cup tied but Richie Logan and Michael Coglan have completed suspensions and are available.

Keith Graydon is also included in the squad. Hixon signed him from Bedlington Terriers last week.

Seaham Red Star manager Keith Turns is confident his side can finish in the top 10 of the STL Northern League Second Division.

“I really believe things are coming together at the club,” said Turns.

Tonight, Red Star hope to play their first game since mid-November when they are due to visit Darlington RA.

Chris McCabe has played only five minutes all season and is itching to make a start. He broke a leg playing for Blyth Spartans at the beginning of last season and made his comeback in the final stages of Seaham’s game on November 20.

Paul Kane meanwhile, has been recalled by South Shields from his loan spell but Turns will still have a squad of 22 available at Brinkburn Road.

Washington, on the fringe of the promotion race, host third-top Whickham at the Nissan Sports complex and the outcome will be crucial to both teams.

The Newtowners welcome the return of Will Caris and Jamie Dawson who have completed bans but a doubt surrounds the availability of goalkeeper Dan Molyneux and Ryan Rowntree is standing by to deputise.

So desperate are clubs to fit in games that last night’s postponed First Division fixture between Tow Law Town and Ryton has been hurriedly re-arranged for tonight.