DURHAM City halted the Ebac Northern League championship ambitions of big spenders Celtic Nation with a resolute defensive performance in Cumbria on Saturday.
Chances were few and far between in the goalless draw. City’s Ollie Hotchkiss went close with a free-kick which was turned around the post by goalkeeper Alan Taylor and Celtic’s best chance also came from a set-piece by Willie Gibson.
The Citizens suffered a big blow in the 40th minute when Craig Hindmarch was sent off, but their 10 men worked tirelessly to stave off defeat.
Celtic also had disciplinary problems, but it wasn’t until the 79th minute that Martin Coleman was dismissed. Two minutes later, Peter Murphy was also red-carded.
Shildon leap-frogged Celtic into pole position. They dominated the first half at Whitley Bay and fully deserved to be two goals ahead through Ben Wood and Billy Greulich-Smith, but it was a different picture in the second period.
Whitley rallied superbly and, after Jarrett Rivers reduced the deficit, the outcome was wide open, but Shildon’s defence held out to earn their side three crucial points.
The battle at the bottom between Hebburn Town and Billingham Town ended in a goalless draw – a result which was of little comfort for both teams.
The Teessiders have only four points from 32 games while Hebburn have collected 10 from 30. The pair are well adrift and look doomed.
Life is a lot easier for mid-table teams Billingham Synthonia and Marske United, who shared six goals at Central Avenue. Matthew Osmond, James Magowan and Michael Sweet netted for Synners with Josh McDonald, Craig Gott and Andy Jennings on target for the Seasiders.
Crook Town were also involved in a 3-3 draw at Newton Aycliffe, whose marksmen were Tom Atkinson (2) and Martin Young. Man-of-the-match Kyle Davis rifled a hat-trick for the Millfield men.
Sunderland RCA’s fixture at Team Northumbria was postponed as were the game between Bedlington Terriers and Guisborough Town and Penrith’s clash with Consett.
In Division Two, Washington were routed by an eight-goal blast from leaders North Shields, who became the first side to pass the 100 mark.
Leading scorer Gareth Bainbridge hit a hat-trick. Dean Holmes bagged a brace with Joe Elliott, Dan Smart and Richard Paxton (own goal) all beating goalkeeper Neal Atkinson.
It was the Robins’ 12th win on the bounce and they’ve now racked up 102 goals in only 27 games.
They extended their lead at the top of the table to eight points over West Allotment Celtic, who could only draw at Stokesley SC where David Dormand and Stephen Little netted. Greg Peel and Gary Redman replied for the hosts.
Heaton Stannington’s fixture at Tow Law was called off and Seaham Red Star leap-frogged them into third with a 3-1 victory over Chester le Street.
Following a goalless opening half the Cestrians went in front on 47 minutes through Damien Stephens but, within a couple of minutes, Josh Home-Jackson equalised.
There were only 15 minutes remaining as Home-Jackson struck again and five minutes from time Darren Reay just about made sure of victory for the Star.
Norton and Stockton Ancients maintained their challenge for one of the three promotion places with a last-ditch win at home to Willington.
Michael Jamieson was a fourth-minute scorer for the Teessiders and after Matthew Bell deflected the ball into his own net for the equaliser, Norton clinched victory with a 90th-minute penalty by Rocky Andrews.
After conceding twice to Thornaby’s Chris Livingstone, Alnwick Town hit back through Darren Riddle but the visitors ended the hopes of the home side when Stephen Walker netted late in the game.
Jarrow Roofing reached the semi-finals of the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup, defeating Northallerton Town with two goals from Shaun Heads. Dale Elgie had levelled for the visitors.
H Bishop Auckland have placed David Bayles in caretaker charge after ex-Ryhope CW boss Martin Swales quit due to work commitments after just four months in charge at Heritage Park.