SUNDERLAND RCA last night maintained their brilliant start to the season – and they now lead the STL Northern League First Division by an impressive nine points, writes Malcolm Pratt.
Bishop Auckland, who last week defeated much-fancied Spennymoor, provided stiff opposition in front of a good crowd at Meadow Park last night before Neil Hixon’s side emerged winners by the odd goal in five.
The Wearsiders went a goal behind on 19 minutes when Andrew Johnson’s free kick took a wicked deflection leaving goalkeeper Gary Hoggett wrong-footed.
Within a minute, however, Ian Maddison headed in the equaliser and on the stroke of half time, he again beat visiting keeper Simon Bishop with another well-directed header.
The visitors battled back but were fortunate with their equalising goal. A corner struck the post and rebounded into the net off RCA defender Mark Ellison.
Within two minutes, RCA scored their third goal which proved to be the winner. Brian Stewart delivered a good finish leaving Bishop with no chance of saving.
There was further good news for Hixon’s side with the defeat of Consett, who would have moved into second place had they won but it was West Auckland who came out on top with strikes from Neil Pattinson and Dan Hindmarsh.
Tow Law Town have yet to claim a point at the Ironworks Road ground, where they suffered another defeat, to Ashington.
Gareth Bainbridge and Stephen Young had the Colliers comfortably ahead but when Luke Thompson reduced the deficit midway through the second half it was all to play for.
Just before the end only a splendid save by Karl Dryden prevented Lee Hamilton from equalising.
Penrith, who recently propped up the table, won for the second time when they went nap at home to Marske United with goals by Grant Davidson (2), Martin Coleman, Shaun Elliott and Tim Clasper.
Adam Gell and Chris McGill replied for newly-promoted Marske, who have taken only four points from seven games.
In Division Two, Chester-le-Street’s newly appointed manager Anth Smith failed to make a winning start.
His side conceded first-half goals to Craig Coates (2) and Craig Mickle at Esh Winning.
When the referee failed to attend, an assistant took over in the middle. Premiership referee Alan Wilkie, there as a spectator, agreed to run the line.
With Whitehaven holding Seaham Red Star to a goalless draw in Cumbria, Horden CW dropped to the bottom of the table.
Anthony Abel and Graeme Baverstock were Thornaby’s matchwinners with Andrew Shingleton on target with Horden’s only goal.
The Colliers though were unlucky not to claim a point when a good effort from Liam Woodhouse rebounded from the crossbar to safety.
Birtley Town twice came from behind to claim a deserved share of the spoils at home to Gillford Park for whom Craig Wilson scored both goals, one from the penalty spot. James Allsopp and Owen Peterson responded for the home side.
Third-top Alnwick Town were hit with a five-goals blitz by Crook Town whose marksmen were Richard Hodgson (2), Tom Vickers (og), Robbie Bird and Kevin Devine. Neil Cattlow hit a consolation for the Northumbrians.
Newcastle Benfield will visit Bedlington Terriers in the First Qualifying Round of the FA Cup following a 3-0 victory over South Shields in the Preliminary Round replay.
Chris Feasey, Andrew Hirst and Brian Dodsworth were the matchwinners for Alu Bangura, who took charge of Benfield for the first time.