THE Sunderland RCA bandwagon rolls on, but they were pressed all the way at Penrith before winning with the only goal of the game.
The Cumbrians have improved in recent weeks and RCA manager Neil Hixon predicted a difficult afternoon.
He was spot-on with his forecast, but the Wearsiders ended unscathed, successfully defending Mark Davison’s 51st-minute goal.
RCA lead the table by seven points from Whitley Bay, who have three games in hand.
The Seahorses made it 13 goals in a week against hapless Stokesley SC. Phil Bell (2), Lee Paul Scroggins (2), Paul Chow and Paul Hubbard (og) took Whitley’s goals tally from eight games to an impressive 33.
Dunston UTS are the only other unbeaten side. They slipped down to third when held to a draw by fourth-placed West Auckland.
Andrew Bulford fired the Tynesiders ahead and there were only six minutes remaining as John Parker levelled with a tremendous 25-yard drive.
South Shields were twice in front at Heritage Park, but had to settle for a point with Bishop Auckland.
Stephen Ramsey and David Southern were the Mariners’ marksmen, with Adam McLean and Chris Bell replying for Bishops, who are up to mid-table.
Consett are now in the bottom half after crashing to a heavy defeat at the hands of Billingham Synthonia, whose marksmen were Danny Earl with a hat-trick, David Abel and Nathan Jameson. Michael Mackay was the Steelmen’s first scorer in seven games.
Newcastle Benfield’s form has also dipped and they conceded an 89th-minute winner to Norton and Stockton Ancients when Nathan Mulligan scored his second goal of the afternoon.
Darren Mowbray also netted, with Michael Chilton and Paul Antony on the mark for Benfield.
Jarrow Roofing and Guisborough Town shared the points in a six-goal thriller.
Aristote Guerin-Lakonga bagged a brace, with Chris Scott also finding the net for Roofing. Chris I’Anson (2) and Austin Johnson responded.
In Division Two, Easington Colliery hit Brandon United for six as the goals flowed from Craig Ellison (2), Luke Wilson (2), Michael Watson and John Harrison.
Birtley Town saw off the challenge from Morpeth Town at Craik Park, with strikes from Reece Darwent (2) and Daniel Smart while Horden CW went down at West Allotment Celtic, whose marksmen were Scott Fenwick (2) and Mark Minto.
Team Northumbria opened up a four-points lead at the top when they crushed second-placed Alnwick Town with seven goals, scored by regular marksman Peter Watling (4), Tom Davis, Dan Riley and John Sherlock.