Easington Colliery boosted their hopes of FA Cup qualification for next season by regaining a top-eight Second Division place with a hard-earned victory over rivals Whickham on Saturday.
Indeed, Easington rose two places to seventh.
Paul Frame’s side went ahead midway through the first half when Aaron Croft sent over a corner and Lewis Turnbull powered a header goalwards, only to be denied by keeper John Mordey, but Michael Bulmer was alert to tap in from close range.
The lively Croft deservedly doubled the lead right after half-time, with a clinical breakaway as Paul Adamson and Jack Pounder combined well before feeding Croft, whose low strike flew under Mordey.
Easington, though, were rocked by the dismissal of Bulmer just before the hour mark for foul language. Whickham capitalised and went close through Mark Fitzpatrick before Ross Nicholson shot under Kyle Donaldson to cut the deficit on 76 minutes.
Whickham had chances to rescue a draw, but Easington held firm to clinch all three points.
Whickham dropped to eighth and Durham City to ninth, after they were beaten 2-1 by promotion-chasing Stockton Town at Consett.
Thomas Coulthard’s early own goal gave City the ideal start, but Fred Woodhouse equalised from close range on 29 minutes and Chris Dunwell powerfully headed home Max Craggs’ free-kick for the winner on 72 minutes.
Stockton are two points behind leaders Team Nortumbria, with a game in hand, after the students succumbed to a 4-3 defeat against Darlington RA, who rose three places to 16th after their magnificent away win.
Ben Dibb-Fuller smashed in a 30-yarder to put Northumbria ahead, but RA hit back to lead 3-1 with goals from Glen Donaldson, Daniel Flounders and Paul New.
Aidan Heywood reduced the deficit, but Isam Mohamad made it 4-2 with seven minutes left. Ross McKeown rallied Team, but Darlington held on for a brilliant success.
Esh Winning climbed off the bottom of the table thanks to a memorable 4-3 win over Northallerton.
Andrew Clarkson and Mark Bailes gave them a 2-0 lead, but Nicky Martin pulled one back, before Chris Mordue made it 3-1.
Martin then scored twice to complete his hat-trick, levelling ip at 3-3, but Kai Hewitson bagged the precious winner, with three minutes remaining.
Esh moved a point above Ryton and Crawcrook Albion, who were thumped 4-0 at Heaton Stannington.
Shane Jones’ early strike and a Dan Robinson hat-trick saw Heaton to an 11th successive win, keeping alive their promotion bid.
Third-top Billingham Synthonia stayed five points above Heaton, with a game more played, after edging out Tow Law 3-2.
Dean Thexton had Lawyers ahead, but Macaulay Langstaff’s acrobatic stunner and Nathan Steele turned it around. Kevin Dixon tequalised, but Langstaff’s 48th-minute penalty, after Anthony Peacock was upended in the box, sealed victory.
Billingham Town won 3-1 at Alnwick Town, thanks to Mark Dixon, Luke Hogan and Craig Hutchinson (penalty), with Sam Walton replying.
Brandon United battled hard for a 0-0 draw at Blyth Tow, while Crook Town lost 2-1 at Hebburn Town.
Jason Blackburn put the hosts ahead, but Chris Holliday equalised just after half-time. Two minutes later, Adam Rundle’s shot was judged to have crossed the line, after it hit the bar and bounced out.
Thornaby lost 3-0 at Bedlington Terriers, with Sam Norris firing a treble.