SUNDERLAND RCA are back into second of the STL Northern League, just a point behind leaders West Auckland Town, after they had their revenge on Tow Law Town.
In the opening-day fixture the Lawyers, now second from bottom, surprisingly defeated the Wearsiders, but Neil Hixon’s side were comfortable winners at Meadow Park.
Joe Walton slipped past two defenders before setting up a chance for Gary Shields who gleefully fired into the net.
Immediately on resuming, Walton crossed for Brian Close to double the lead and it was Walton who was again the architect of RCA’s third goal as Shields added to his tally.
With three of the top five sides on FA Carlsberg Vase duty, Spennymoor Town also closed in on the leaders when they too won at Penrith, where Stephen Richardson, with a brace and Gavin Cogden were the scorers.
Newton Aycliffe have taken promotion in their stride and remain in sixth after sharing the points at Consett, where they led through Ben Wood and Paul Broom.
Dale Burrell cut the deficit and Aycliffe then had Wood sent off.
The Steelmen then claimed an equaliser through Carl Piecha.
Stokesley SC look certain to be relegated after losing to third-from-bottom Jarrow Roofing, whose scorers were Calvin McMahon, Chris Hughes and Craig Nelson (2). Owen Dixon was twice on the mark for the visitors.
Penrith are fourth-from-bottom while Billingham Town secured victory over South Shields, thanks to David Onions and Jamie Owen (2).
Denver Morris and Chris Feasey responded for the Mariners.
In Division Two, the battle is on to avoid finishing bottom with only one team going down.
Easington Colliery are still five points adrift, but new manager Paul Adamson will be heartened by the victory over rivals Seaham Red Star.
David Paul scored the only goal two minutes from the end.
Horden CW are second-from-bottom. They looked on course for a point at Washington before Jake Leighton snatched victory for the Newtowners with his 86th-minute strike.
Chester-le-Street gained a valuable point at Whickham. Callum Patton rounded goalkeeper Scott Cresswell to give the Cestrians the lead before Lawrence McKenna restored parity for the home side, who had Kieron Wrightson sent off on 55 minutes.
Team Northumbria extended their lead at the top to 15 points with victory over North Shields. Lee Scott was the only marksman early in the game.
Ambitious Gillford Park are the team to watch.
They raised eyebrows when they signed Gavin Barton from Spennymoor Town, who made an immediate impact, scoring four of his new team’s seven goals against Thornaby.
Ryan Errington, Michael Reed and Lee Hoolickin also netted before Lee Farrington and Mark Lilley replied for Thornaby.
Gillford Park are now second and Darlington RA remain third, despite losing at Morpeth Town, whose matchwinners were Ashley McAlpine and Connor Andrew.
Esh Winning moved into fourth when a Keiran Megran goal was sufficient at Alnwick Town and Birtley Town jumped into fifth with an excellent result at Hebburn Town.
Daniel Smart bagged a brace of goals, with Stephen Foster on target for Hebburn, who are now down to ninth, though just five points outside the play-off places.