Sunderland West End are building their Wearside League title bid on solid foundations according to manager Anthony Nelson.
The new League leaders are yet to concede a goal from open play in 2019 and only a free-kick from Liam Blighe during a 3-1 win at West Auckland Tunns has beaten keeper Neal Bussey since the turn of the year.
That solidity continued on Saturday during a 2-0 win against top-six challengers Hartlepool FC.
First-half goals from Brian Norton and Brad Wilson ensured that West End claimed all three points and leapfrogged Hebburn Town Reserves to end the weekend on top of the table.
The Hornets hold games in hand over Nelson’s side, but the West End boss is happy to be keeping things tight as they look to continue putting pressure on the Hornets.
He told The Echo: “We dominated Hartlepool from start to finish and scored early on to settle things.
“They never had a shot on goal, and we are defending as a team, teams just aren’t creating chances against us.
“It puts pressure on Hebburn, because they know that they have to win games now and it’s nice to see them not winning games.
“We still have to play them and that’s a big game, I wish that game was happening now.
“I’ve enjoyed the season so far, it’s just four games that sickens you.
“We have got through a bad spell, Wolviston are having theirs now and so are Hebburn by the looks of it.
“We just have to win our games and keep putting pressure on the teams around us.”
The league’s basement club Coxhoe Athletic secured only their third win of the season as they saw off Gateshead Leam Rangers at Beechfield Park.
Kieron Parnaby scored twice, and Stephen Bogie grabbed in the other goal as Coxhoe eased to a 3-0 win and moved within eight points of second-bottom Darlington RA.
Boldon CA remain unbeaten in 2019, although they had to settle for a point in their 2-2 home draw with Darlington Town.
Rob Moncur and Sam England were on the score-sheet for the visitors, but the spoils were shared thanks to a goal from Dom Solman and a John Murray penalty.
Hebburn Town Reserves suffered semi-final heartache for the third time this season as they were beaten on penalties by Richmond Town in the last four of the Monkwearmouth Charity Cup.
Jason Newall put the visitors ahead on 10 minutes when he was left unmarked from a corner and headed home at the far-post.
The Hornets got back on level terms five minutes into the second-half as Josh Houghton took a pass from Shaun Reay and lashed an unstoppable effort into the net.
But a 4-3 defeat in a penalty shoot-out means that Kevin Bolam’s side are still looking to progress into a cup final this season after three previous attempts.
There was more semi-final misery for another South Tyneside club as Harton and Westoe CW were thumped 4-0 by Horden CW in the last four of the TWR Shipowners Charity Cup.
John Bowes, David Paul, Josh Broom and Robert Renwick all found the net for the hosts on a miserable day for David Crumbie’s side.