WITH only five games to play, Easington Colliery face an uphill battle to retain their place in the STL Northern League Second Division, writes MALCOLM PRATT.
Their plight worsened with a 4-1 defeat at promotion hopefuls Birtley Town last night.
In atrocious conditions, the Colliers were on the back foot from the start after conceding twice in the opening 13 minutes.
Danny Smart fired past goalkeeper Tom Courtney on nine minutes and shortly afterwards Smart was brought down and Craig Marron converted the penalty.
John Hutton gave Easington a glimmer of hope as he tapped into the net at 2-1 two minutes before the interval.
But, although they battled hard in the second period, the visitors’ hopes ended in the final few minutes. Daniel Smith fired into the net on 83 minutes and, two minutes from time, Matthew Hornsby was also on target.
Birtley moved into fourth position, three points behind Hebburn with as many games to play, while Easington are six points adrift of Horden CW at the other end of the table.
Horden lost 2-1 to visitors Alnwick. Driving rain and sleet made good football extremely difficult, but Horden’s spirits were lifted in the third minute when Daniel Reeves fired home a penalty, awarded after Darren Atkinson had been up-ended.
Alnwick quickly hit back with an equaliser by Gary Patterson, then, before the interval, Brian Murray scored what proved to be the winning goal.
Whitehaven’s long journey to Chester-le-Street proved abortive when the game was abandoned after 39 minutes, with the match goalless.
Spennymoor’s Division One clash with Dunston UTS was postponed, as was Tow Law’s visit of Penrith. Fortunately, Penrith were spared an unnecessary trip.
H Sunderland RCA face what could prove to be a make-or-break game tonight when they take on FA Vase finalists West Auckland at Darlington Road.
After losing at the weekend, the Wearsiders lead the First Division table by six points from Spennymoor, who have three games in hand. West Auckland are third and, although 10 points behind RCA, have played six fewer games.