Northern League: Five-goal Ryhope CW keep up pursuit of leaders Shields
Ryhope CW stayed hot on the heels of leaders South Shields in the Division Two promotion race.
Gary Pearson’s men went nap at home to Crook Town, despite never producing their best football.
Matty Weirs fired home a well-taken early opener.
Crook had a man stretchered off, and their goalkeeper, Ryan Graham, produced an excellent display, twice denying Nathan O’Neill in a goalmouth scramble only for the ball to fall for Josh Home Jackson to double the lead.
Ryhope were always in command and David Gordon curled in a fine strike from just outside the box, following a corner, before Richard Hodgson fired home a penalty and Lee Chapman completed the scoring.
Crook trailed by four goals before Owen Lancaster scored a 75th-minute consolation, despite looking offside. The Millfield men, who forced home keeper Anth Lowerson into some fine saves, remain in the bottom six.
South Shields remain on course to go up as champions. They beat fifth-placed Team Northumbria 2-0 away.
Former Sunderland favourite Julio Arca converted a 22nd-minute penalty and, after an hour, recent signing Martyn Coleman sealed a crucial victory over their rivals.
Billingham Synthonia are making a determined bid to return to the top flight at the first attempt.
They have only ever played two seasons in Division Two and are now third-top after hitting out-of-sorts Birtley Town with a 5-0 defeat.
A goal by Chris Dickinson was all that separated the teams at the halfway stage, but Birtley endured a torrid second half as Macaulay Langstaff rifled a hat-trick and Sam Garvie also struck.
Chester-le-Street are back up to fourth, just two points outside the promotion zone, after they hit 10-man Thornaby for six at Chester Moor Park.
Scott Heslop gave the Cestrians an early advantage and, after 16 minutes, Thornaby had Michael Joseph shown a straight red card.
The hosts immediately took advantage, scoring twice through Heslop and Michael Hepplewhite in the space of a couple of minutes and, before the interval, Mark Pattinson made it four.
After the break, Joe Hamblin added his name to the scoresheet and Heslop completed his hat-trick late on.
Easington Colliery have a bit of ground to make up if they are to make a late push for one of the three promotion places, but they cannot be discounted.
They are seventh and their man-of-the-match in the 3-0 win at Brandon United was Joe Kerridge, who scored all three goals.
Northallerton are also coming up on the rails, but their eight-match winning sequence ended in a 0-0 draw at Heaton Stannington.
Esh Winning moved out of the bottom two with a 1-1 draw at Ryton and Crawcrook Albion, for whom Callum Turnbull converted a penalty before Liam Clark’s 88th-minute equaliser.
Stokesley SC, who didn’t have a game, remain firmly rooted at the basement and Birtley Town are now second-bottom for the first time.