For Whitley Bay it’s one step forward and one step back. After successive wins against Norton and Tow Law Ian Chandler`s third-placed side slipped to a 2-1 defeat at Newton Aycliffe. All three goals came in the final twenty minutes, Robbie Dale equalising a Dale Jardine effort before Elliott Gardner notched an 87th minute winner.
Five days after Halloween, Gavin Barton returned to haunt Sunderland RCA, scoring the opening goal in a 4-1 win for two-time champions Spennymoor Town. Gavin Cogdon, Adam Johnston and Craig Ruddy added second half goals before Lee Owens netted from the penalty spot for the home side. Ominously for the rest, Spennymoor are now unbeaten in nine league games and up to fifth, six points off the lead but with at least a game in hand on all the teams above them. That includes Dunston UTS, who went down to a 2-1 defeat at home to Bishop Auckland, Whitley Bay and RCA, the former leaders now five points behind West Auckland after the County Durham side’s 3-1 win at Billingham Synthonia. Moving in the opposite direction are Bedlington, another Anthony Shandran hat-trick helping the Terriers to a 5-2 win over Tow Law as they improved to ninth, six points behind Spennymoor and having played the same number of games. Elsewhere, Ashington won their seventh league game in a row, seeing off struggling Marske 2-1, and Torquay target Aristotle Guerin-Lokonga returned from his trial at Premier League Sunderland to score for Jarrow Roofing in their 4-3 away win over Shildon and Billingham Town slumped to fourth bottom after their 3-0 defeat at Penrith. The full Division One table can be viewed here.
In Division Two Birtley Town recovered from 2-0 down to beat Esh Winning 3-2 with two goals from Dan Smart and one from Andy McIntosh. The win lifts Scott Oliver`s side into an unlikely third place in the table, ahead of North Shields – 3-2 losers at home to fifth-placed Gillford Park – on goal difference. Long-time leaders Team Northumbria and second-placed Whickham both lost, Team North 3-1 at Darlington RA and Whickham 2-1 at Morpeth. Only four points now separate RA in tenth from Birtley in the final promotion place, with Whickham just a point ahead of their Gateshead neighbours and Team Northumbria eight clear at the top having played at least one game more than everybody else. FA Cup heroes Hebburn Town drew 2-2 at with Northallerton in their first home league game since August to slip one place to eighteenth, though with up to ten games in hand on the teams above nobody at the club will be panicking yet.
Only four points now separate the top five in the Northern Alliance Premier, with Heaton Stannington two points clear of Killingworth Sporting after Killingworth’s 2-2 draw with fifth-placed Ashington Colliers. Carlisle City are back in third after winning 2-1 at Percy Main. In the Wearside League Ryhope CW saw off Wearside rivals Silksworth Rangers 4-0 to go three points ahead of Willington, who lost 4-3 at Stockton Town. Redcar, in second place with 41 points from 17 games compared to Ryhope’s 43 from 16, didn’t play.