Sunderland RCA maintained their tremendous run with an impressive 3-0 victory at fourth-top West Auckland Town on Saturday.
The Meadow Park men stayed in seventh place, but they are now level with sixth-top Shildon, three points behind West and just five adrift of third-top Consett, who have played three games more.
On a day when only a handful of games got the go-ahead, RCA dominated the first 20 minutes at the Wanted Metal Stadium, with Colin Larkin having a header well saved by home keeper Shane Bland and Stephen Callen having an effort cleared off the line.
Lewis Dodds and Jamie Cobain went close as West rallied, but the first half ended goalless.
RCA, though, stormed ahead four minutes into the second half, when Luke Page nodded home Dylan Elliott’s corner, after Bland failed to gather.
Bland kept out a well-taken Elliott set-piece then produced a magnificent stop to deny a Larkin volley.
Michael Charlton’s shot from distance was not far off-target for RCA, before they doubled their lead on 80 minutes, Larkin producing a neat finish after getting on the end of a through ball.
Four minutes later, it was 3-0 as Nathan O’Neill pounced to stab the loose ball home, after Bland saved from Callen.
That confirmed a first top-flight win at West Auckland for RCA since promotion in 2010, following six defeats and a draw.
Manager Martin Swales said: “We’re absolutely buzzing, delighted, what a result!
“West Auckland are flying high at the minute with some massive results, so to beat them 3-0 was fantastic.
“The scoreline flattered them as well. Their goalkeeper pulled off around seven saves and we had a few more near misses.
“My lads were fantastic and this was a great win against a very good side. They have battled and played brilliantly.
“We’ve had only one defeat in our last 12 games. Our new signing, goalkeeper Scott Pocklington, from Bishop Auckland kept a clean sheet, so that’s an added bonus as well.”
Washington were hammered 7-1 at Penrith and relegation now looks a certainty for the second-bottom Mechanics.
They are still 15 points adrift of fourth-bottom Bishop Auckland, with just six games to play.
Washington were 1-0 down early in the game when Martyn Coleman fed Grant Davidson, who beat goalkeeper Craig Williams in the seventh minute.
In the 19th minute, it was 2-0 when Coleman fired past Williams.
Eight minutes before half-time, the Bonny Blues went 3-0 up, when Coleman struck his second goal, and his hat-trick followed, two minutes into the second half.
Jonny Murray made it 5-0 following good work from Coleman in the 59th minute, and Murray notched again, 10 minutes later.
Adam Main smashed a seventh into the bottom corner before Washington grabbed a late consolation, with Jak Hanson scoring from the penalty spot.
Penrith’s win took them seven points above third-bottom Jarrow Roofing.
Consett lost 4-3 at home to Team Northumbria, making it 10 goals conceded in their last two matches.
Nick Cassidy put Consett ahead after 26 minutes, when his shot from the edge of the penalty box found the top corner of the net.
Four minutes later, Team North were level when Gerard Richardson’s glancing header went in off the post.
The visitors were soon ahead, following a good team move which ended with Ben Dibb-Fuller side-footing home from close range.
The Steelmen equalised when Danny Craggs fed Michael Mackay to smash home for 2-2, but Team North regained the lead again in the 53rd minute, when Andrei Ardelean’s shot hit Jordan Lavery and ballooned into the net.
Dibb-Fuller’s excellent finish extended the lead to 4-2, though Craggs bulleted home a header to cut the deficit, from Calvin Smith’scross on 67 minutes
The students, though, held firm to see out the win.
Marske United stepped up their title chase with a 3-0 win at Ashington.
Craig Gott fired a 13th-minute penalty opener, with the Colliers’ Jay Hornsby sent off for the offence.
Ashington went down to nine men in the 37th minute, when Tony Stephenson was red-carded for hand ball on his own goal-line.
However, Gott’s penalty was superbly saved by goalkeeper Conor Grant.
Shortly afterwards through, Curtis Round made it 2-0, slotting home from 15 yards.
Ashington were awarded a 56th-minute penalty, but Robert Dean saved Damien Stevens’ disappointing effort with his feet.
Marske’s dominance brought a third goal from James Fairley, who raced clear to score on 58 minutes.
Marske, with nine games in hand, are now 15 points behind leaders Morpeth Town.
The remaining top-flight games, including Shildon’s visit to on-song Ryhope CW, were all postponed.
Ryhope hope that their game at Dunston UTS tomorrow can get the green light, while Sunderland RCA entertain Bishop Auckland, Seaham Red Star visit Newton Aycliffe and Washington are at home to Shildon.
The entire Second Division programme was called off because of waterlogged pitches.
Tomorrow, Easington Colliery head to Willington to take on Durham City, while Tow Law host bottom club Alnwick, Willington visit second-placed Northallerton and third-top Whickham entertain fifth-placed Thornaby.