It’s now 1,338 days since Whitley Bay lost a game in the FA Vase, a 4-1 home win over Northern Counties East side Tadcaster Albion putting the four time winners through to round three. Goals from the usual suspects, Pauls Chow and Robinson, Craig McFarlane and new signing Chris Fawcett put the Seahorses four up in the first hour, a last minute penalty providing a consolation for the outclassed Tadcaster side to take home to North Yorkshire.
It was a good day for the Northern League all round, reaffirming the widespread belief that it remains the strongest step five/six league in the country. There was a last-minute winner as Newcastle Benfield saw off the challenge of a second Northern Counties East League side, Barton Town Old Boys, 2-1 at Sam Smiths Park, and two goals from Sonny Andrews helped champions Spennymoor return from Lancashire with a 5-0 win over North West Counties side Barnoldswick Town. Double srikes from Marc Walton and Michael Mackay gave midtable Consett a 4-2 home win over Ramsbottom United, currently second, three places above Barnoldswick, in the North West Counties Premier.
Dunston put twelve past Blackwell Miners Welfare, currently third in the step six East Midlands Counties League. Andrew Bulford and ex-AFC Wimbledon striker Stephen Goddard contributed three goals apiece, along with two for Lee McAndrew and single strikes by defenders Ben Cattanach, Steven Shaw, Chris Swailes and Brad Brooking. Division One leaders West Auckland put out a third North West Counties Premier team in Bacup Borough 3-1, with two goals from Stuart Banks and one from Michael Rae. In the two all-Northern League affairs a Jonny Godsmark strike for Ashington put visiting Norton out of the competition and Billingham Synthonia beat Division Two Crook 2-0.
It wasn’t all success, though. Division Two side Gillford Park lost away at Northern Counties East League leaders Bridlington Town and Bedlington Terriers threw away a two goal lead at Parkgate, eventually losing 4-3 despite a brace from Steven Richardson. Billingham Town are also out, beaten 4-2 at home by Glossop North End.
Back in the Northern League the action was all at the foot of the Division One table, Penrith, Marske, Guisborough Town and South Shields all winning to move away from the bottom three of Stokesley, Billingham Town and Tow Law, who stay just one place off the foot of the table despite a 1-1 draw at Newton Aycliffe. The bottom six are currently Stokesley (Played 21, Points 1), Tow Law (Pl 20, Pts 10), Billingham Town (Pl 17, Pts 13), Jarrow Roofing (Pl 18, Pts 18), Guisborough (Pl 15, Pts 19) and Marske (Pl 19 Pts 20).
Hebburn Town manager Paul Bennett, who slammed his players as “lazy” after they threw away a 4-0 lead to draw 4-4 with Darlington RA in midweek, will be slightly happier in the wake of yesterday’s 4-3 win over midtable Thornaby. The South Tynesiders stay seventeenth but have at least four games in hand on all the teams above them. Going the other way are Whickham, whose 3-1 defeat at Alnwick pushed them back to sixth, while Birtley Town drop to eighth after a 3-1 home loss to ninth placed Darlington RA. With leaders Team Northumbria surprisingly going down 1-0 at lowly Seaham Red Star, North Shields and Esh Winning closed the gap at the top to just six points with wins over Northallerton and Brandon United. The top four are now Team Northumbria (Pl 21, Pts 41), Esh Winning (Pl 19, Pts 35), North Shields (Pl 18, Pts 35) and West Allotment Celtic (Pl 19, Pts 31), with Gillford Park, deducted three points for fielding an ineligible player in a 4-1 win against Cumbrian rivals Whitehaven, one behind West Allotment having played just sixteen games. Tuesday night sees Gillford travel to Hebburn Town as both sides make up their backlog of fixtures.