BIRTLEY are almost certain to sack one of their players after he was filmed throwing a punch that broke another player’s jaw at Heaton Stannington on Saturday.

Mark Brereton was filmed by Sky TV punching Heaton Stannington’s Paul Blakey behind the referee’s back, and then seconds later walking off and being substituted by the Birtley bench.

Birtley club official Trevor Armstrong said: “We are meeting on Monday to make a final decision on the matter, but we can’t condone that sort of incident, there is no place for that in football. We have apologised to Heaton Stannington.

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I have never come across anything like this in my time in football.”

Heaton assistant manager Geoff Walker said: “The officials said they didn’t see it, but there were plenty of people who did. I spoke to their coach afterwards and he apologised.

It’s unfortunate that it’s happened because it was the coward’s way to do it.”

Heaton could now ask Northumberland FA and the police to take further action using the video evidence.

The result of the game was almost secondary to Blakey’s injury, with Heaton going top of the table with a 3-0 win.

Jonathan Wright scored twice to take his league tally for the season to 24, with Phil Smith scoring the other.

In the first division, Crook Town easily beat second bottom Billingham Town 6-1 at the Millfield.

Crook took a sixth-minute lead when Adam Nicholls burst through and beat Town keeper Graeme Willey, then Nicholls set up Marc Ellison to fire the second. Craig Price crossed for Robbie Bird to make it 3-0 and a defensive mix-up allowed Kyle Davis to score a simple goal for 4-0.

Ricky Phillips pulled a goal back but Richard Hodgson scored Crook’s fifth from a rebound, then Town defender Dom Gamble sliced a clearance into his own net Whitley Bay striker Paul Chow single-handedly destroyed Team Northumbria when he scored all the goals in their 4-3 away win after they were behind twice.

David Luke put TN into the lead but Chow headed Whitley level. Dan Riley restored TN’s lead with a low shot but Chow once again levelled from the penalty spot. He completed his hat-trick from close range, and after Peter Watling levelled for TN, Chow fired the winner after 65 minutes.

Chow now has 17 league goals for the season and is the division’s top scorer.

Bishop Auckland’s sixgame unbeaten run came to an end when they were beaten 2-1 at home by Sunderland RCA.

RCA took the lead on 14 minutes with a disputed penalty by Gavin Barton after Ross Preston was fouled, and the visitors went further ahead when Stephen Baynes fired home.

Dean Douglas pulled a goal back from a Danny Brunskill pass and after that Bishops missed several chances.

Celtic Nation moved into third place with a 4-1 win at Bedlington.

Dylan Williamson fired Bedlington into a 37th-minute lead, but Colin McMenamin levelled just on half time.

The Carlisle side scored three times in the last 20 minutes for the points. Jacob Simpson ran though and made it 2-1, Paul Johnson headed the third and Micky Rae grabbed the fourth.

New signing Warren Byrne scored for West Auckland as they kept their unbeaten league record by winning 2-0 against Consett.

Byrne, signed from Crook, came on as an early sub and headed West into the lead from a Robbie Briggs cross, and on the hour Steve Richardson made it 2-0.

West are now the only club in the league with an unbeaten record.

Billingham Synthonia and Durham drew 1-1 at Central Avenue.

City took the lead when Olly Hotchkiss found Denver Morris from a free kick and he scored with a left-foot shot, and they nearly added further goals before half-time.

Synners levelled when David Alderson crossed for David Hillerby to head home.

Durham keeper James Winter pulled off several good saves, while James Briggs pulled off a good stop at the other end.

Newcastle Benfield are unbeaten in 13 games after a 2-1 home win against Morpeth.

Tony Stephenson and Paul Brayson scored in the first half, with Michael Chilton pulling a goal back for Morpeth before half-time.

Dunston UTS are unbeaten in six matches following a 2-0 home win over Guisborough, which puts them fifth.

They took the lead when Lee McAndrew fired past Ben Escritt, then new signing Chris Winn, signed from Ryhope CW, fired the second just after half time.

Hebburn are still bottom of the table following a 2-0 home defeat by Penrith. The visitors did the damage with a header by Stephen Rigg and a penalty by Jordan Little.

In the second division, leaders Northallerton were beaten 2-1 at Stokesley. Grant Hickman gifted the opening goal to Stokesley when his back pass was picked up by Gerard Richardson, who rounded the keeper and scored, but Northallerton equalised when Christian Holiday headed in a cross by Andrew Porritt.

Stokesley clinched the win when Richardson scored with a shot on the turn just before half-time. Stokesley hit the woodwork twice in the second half, while their keeper, Ryan Hodgson, pulled off some good saves.

Esh Winning have parted company with manager George McCain, even though they didn’t play on Saturday as their home game with Norton was postponed.

“We need to take steps to stop the club dropping into the Wearside League,” said a club spokesman.

Esh, who have won only three matches this season, two of them in the first week of the season, dropped deeper into trouble because of Washington’s 4-3 victory over Brandon and Ryton’s 1-0 win at Thornaby, Dean Sinclair scoring just before half-time.

Washington defender Paul Wardle scored at both ends, then Paul Kane put Shields into the lead, only for Kevin Hamilton to equalise again.

James Fairley then scored twice for Washington before Hamilton pulled a late goal back.

Two other clubs in the promotion mix, West Allotment and North Shields, drew 0-0, Shields having a late goal ruled out for offside.

Darlington RA gave themselves a boost with a 2-1 home win over Seaham Red Star.

Jimmy Muir gave RA the lead from the spot after Aaron Ramsbottom was brought down, but Chris Mccabe headed the equaliser.

RA got the winner when Steve Butterworth volleyed home from a Lee Farrington cross.

Tow Law had a setback when they were beaten 4-3 at South Shields.

Luke Richardson put Shields into the lead, only for Jason Brazauskas to level for Tow Law.

Shields went 4-1 up with three goals in four minutes by Adam Burnicle, Luke Olabode and Richardson, before Jonathan Kemp and Robert Hurton pulled goals back with headers. Both teams finished with ten men, Jordan Fraser of Shields and Dean Thexton of Tow Law being sent off in the first half.

Whickham are on the fringe of the promotion race thanks to a 3-0 home win over Alnwick.

Liam Barnett scored two early goals for Whickham, with Mark Fitzpatrick adding the third near the end.

Willington are now unbeaten in six league games after they beat Whitehaven with an Adam Sakr penalty, but they could have had more if it wasn’t for some good saves by the Whitehaven keeper.

The game at Jarrow Roofing was postponed because of a waterlogged pitch.

In the Evo-Stik League, Whitby lost 3-1 at AFC Fylde after Craig Farrell had given them the lead, and Blyth lost 3-1 at home to Kings Lynn, Damen Mullen scoring their goal.