Easington Colliery’s Ebac Northern League Second Division promotion hopes are fading fast – after a crushing 4-1 defeat at Billingham Town.
Paul Frame’s side remain in seventh place, but the gap to the promotion places is 11 points, with 11 matches to play.
Easington’s defeat extends their disappointing run to just one win and four draws in the last 10 league games.
Promotion rivals Billingham Town are looking very good and their free-scoring play was evident again against the Colliers as they ran out convincing winners to move within three points of third-top neighbours Billingham Synthonia, with two games in hand.
In the only Division Two game to get the go-ahead, Craig Hutchinson put Town in front after just eight minutes, converting an easy chance following good work from James Davis and Elliott Beddow.
Prolific marksman Hutchinson scored his second after Davis and Clayton McDonald combined, when he unleashed a brilliant left-foot shot from just outside the box, giving Easington keeper Kyle Donaldson no chance.
In the 40th minute, Beddow’s shot found the top corner to make it 3-0.
Late in the second half, a poor back pass to keeper Donaldson allowed Davis the chance to slide home a fourth goal, before, on 84 minutes, Colliery grabbed a consolation goal when McDonald fouled Aidan Goodey inside the box and Joe Kerridge coolly scored from the spot kick, beating goalkeeper Tom Dawson.
Only two matches were played in Division One, and South Shields capitalised to move within eight points of leaders North Shields, with two games in hand.
Bottom club Chester-le-Street put up a spirited performance but succumbed to a 3-0 defeat in front of 703 fans at Mariners Park.
Shields took the lead after 16 minutes, following Alex Nicholson’s corner. He played a one-two with Gavin Cogdon and, from Nicholson’s cross, Jon Shaw scored at the back post, sliding the ball past goalkeeper Jack Wilson.
Shields were awarded a penalty just before half-time, but Wilson pulled off a fine save from Julio Arca’s spot-kick.
Cogdon doubled the lead on 55 minutes, heading home Wayne Phillips’ cross, then Chester were killed off with eight minutes to go as David Foley made a good run and cut inside to fire the ball past Wilson.
Bishop Auckland and Newcastle Benfield served up an epic 4-4 draw at Heritage Park.
In difficult conditions, the game exploded into life when Benfield took a 31st-minute lead, when ex-Sunderland academy youngster Dylan McEvoy’s 14-yard shot beat keeper Scott Pocklington.
It was 2-0 in the 44th minute, when Matthew Cornish’s stunning 20-yard volley flew past Pocklington despairing dive.
Bishops came out all guns blazing in the second half, though, and scored four goals in just eight minutes.
riestley Griffiths unleashed a 35-yarder on 66 minutes to start the comeback.
Two minutes later, James Fairley’s deflected shot found the net, past the stranded Mullen, to make it 2-2.
Benfield’s defence ws all over the place and a Griffiths corner went directly into the net, putting the Two Blues ahead on 72 minutes.
When left-back Michael Hoganson smashed in a 35-yard free-kick, Bishops looked home and hosed.
But, incredibly, two goals in the final four minutes rescued Benfield.
Mark Turnbull found the top corner of the net with his shot for 4-3, then Ben Riding put through his own net, when under pressure, to level matters,
The point moved Bishops up to fifth place, while Benfield stay 10th.
In the only match to get the green light in the TWR Bifolds Wearside League, bottom club Harton & Westoe succumbed to a 4-2 defeat away to fellow strugglers Windscale.
The Cumbrians’ victory moved them out of the bottom three, leapfrogging Seaham Red Star Reserves.
However, Harton started well and took the lead on eight minutes, when a mix-up in the home defence allowed Brodie Simpson to score.
Ray Sempill equalised after Laurie Black’s 20-yarder came back off the post, but Harton were back in front, early in the second half. when Simpson converted a penalty, awarded for handball.
Windscale, though, levelled again, when Stephen Walker fired home from six yards, and Greg Stainton’s long-range effort best keeper Daniel Hebden for a 3-2 home lead/
Right on time, Reece Fretwell curled in a fine clincher.