Sunderland West End’s impressive start to the season was maintained with Saturday’s 3-2 victory over Spennymoor Town Reserves – but it was a close call for Anth Nelson’s side.
Twice ahead at Ford Quarry, West End were pegged back on both occasions and it took a late penalty to stretch their winning sequence to eight games.
Callum Hodgson produced an excellent volley for the opener on 13 minutes, but, shortly afterwards, Connor Dunleavy drove in the equaliser from the edge of the penalty area.
Kieran Martin went past three players and fired into the top corner of the net for a superb individual effort, restoring the home lead, only for Ross Morrow to level with a penalty.
West End were then awarded a spot-kick five minutes from time and Mark Catcheside kept his cool to slot past goalkeeper David Atkinson for the winner.
Horden CW are up to fourth following a 4-1 romp at home to Annfield Plain.
Two goals by Chris Tarn in eight minutes before the interval set the Colliers on their way and when he completed a hat-trick it was all over for the visitors.
Dan Flounders made it four and the game was into the last minute when Alan Wilkinson claimed Plain’s consolation.
After conceding five goals in their previous game, Leam Rangers were sunk 3-1 by impressive visitors Ashbrooke Belford House, who were never troubled.
Jordan Birnie fired Belford into an eighth-minute lead and Adam Hopps beat the wall and goalkeeper Connor Hawkins, from a free-kick, for a second goal.
Worse was to follow for Leam, who had Leon Kane sent off after 65 minutes, and Michael Young made it three before Craig Williams replied for the Tynesiders.
Silksworth CW claimed their first win, defeating fifth-bottom visitors Wolviston 2-0.
A cross from Rob Harle was headed in by Andrew Place to make the breakthrough, and Mattie Bray toepoked home Silksworth’s decisive second goal on 65 minutes.
Jarrow just had the edge on Harton and Westoe CW in the South Tyneside derby.
Paul Burrell’s pinpoint free-kick was headed wide of Harton goalkeeper Curtis Richardson by Darren Morton for the opener, but the sides went in level following Shaun Carroll’s 41st minute penalty.
Jarrow clinched a 2-1 success, though, as John Murray tapped in a second-half winner.
Boldon CA grabbed a late equaliser through Alex Kempster at Richmond Town, for whom Anth Harrison broke the deadlock in the 70th minute.
Redcar Athletic, who have assembled a strong squad, remain second, two points behind West End, who have a game in hand. They twice came from behind to beat Whitehaven 4-2, with Alex Maghosa, Adam Preston (2) and Lance Skelton on target.
Three-time champs Stockton Town, with six wins and one defeat from seven games, are third. Tom Coulthard and Ben Priestley notched in a 2-0 victory at Prudhoe Town.
Hartlepool were trounced 8-1 at Cleator Moor Celtic, for whom Adam Meagan fired a hat-trick.