Northern League: Durham City staying alive, but still a seven-point gap to safety

It is not over yet for Durham City, but they remain precariously placed in the First Division relegation battle.

Monday, 25th April 2016, 9:30 am
Ryhope CW striker Conor Winter (red and white) is the fall guy in this challenge at Hebburn Town on Saturday. Picture by Tim Richardson

Saturday’s 3-2 victory over Washington at Consett gave them a ray of hope that they can avoid joining Norton and Stockton Ancients and Bedlington Terriers in Division Two next season.

The Citizens still have a lot to do, though, as, with only 12 points to play for, they are seven adrift of the three teams immediately above them.

Manager Chris Moore, though, will be encouraged at the manner of his team’s performance – not to say the three precious points they picked up.

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Mark Davison was an early marksman for the Mechanics, but City then roared into a 3-1 lead through Andre Vasile Ardelgan, Nick Allen and Sam Norris.

When John Butler headed home on 82 minutes, Durham’s supporters became nervous and were as grateful as the players to hear the final whistle.

Of the three teams immediately above City, West Allotment Celtic look to be City’s best escape route.

Following a six-goal mauling at Jarrow Roofing, whose marksmen were James Fairley, with a hat-trick, Michael Mackay (2) and Paul Chow, Allotment have just one game to play against rival strugglers Whitley Bay at Hillheads tomorrow night.

Sunderland RCA returned to form and kept Whitley Bay in the relegation battle when they won 2-1.

Alex Kempster fired Bay into an interval lead and, following Colin Larkin’s 74th-minute equaliser, Callum Hope hit the winner three minutes from time.

Ian Chandler’s men have several games in hand on their rivals and should get over the line.

Newcastle Benfield are the other side still in the danger zone. They managed a crucial point at home to top-six team Guisborough, who led through Danny Earl before Dan Taylor equalised.

Norton and Stockton Ancients, who had a free day, were already relegated and are joined in the Second Division by Bedlington Terriers.

Danny Craggs and Luke Sullivan had Consett two goals up, but Terriers’ hopes were raised by a couple of strikes from Ryan Graham.

The Northumbrians pushed players forward in a desperate bid to clinch all three points and left the door open for Dan Hawkins and Jordan Lavery to seal their fate with two goals in the last three minutes.

Despite losing 2-0 to second-top Marske United, the championship is still Shildon’s to lose.

Connor Hood scored both goals, but Marske remain 16 points behind the leaders with three games in hand.