Newton Aycliffe manager Deano Browne said that their defeat at Morpeth on Saturday was a bitter pill to swallow.

Aycliffe produced their most battling performance of the season so far to almost snatch a point off the league leaders, who only won the game 2-1 with nine minutes left.

“It was a real hard defeat to take,” said Browne. “In my eyes we dominated the top of the league away from home. Morpeth took two of the chances they created and we couldn’t convert the multiple chances we created.”

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Mark Davison put Morpeth into the lead with a low shot on 8 minutes, but Aycliffe showed plenty of spirit to get back into the game.

Sean Tarling missed a good chance when he was clean through, then Kurt Matthews and Kieron Duffy-Weekes were both denied. However, they gained their reward when Duffy-Weekes scored from a corner.

But Aycliffe were caught when Jordan Fry headed in a right wing cross for the winner. Morpeth finished the game with nine men, after Chris Reid and Wayne Phillips were both red carded.

Bishop Auckland lifted themselves five points clear of the relegation zone by beating Washington 3-0 at Heritage Park.

Michael Hoganson hit the post for Bishops in the first half, and they got the breakthrough they needed on 35 minutes when Andy Johnson turned on the edge of the box and chipped the ball over the keeper.

They got the second after 70 minutes when Thomas McAloon hit the post, but Andre Bennett was on hand to turn the ball home, and the points were safe with a few minutes left when Johnson pounced on a rebound after McAloon’s shot was saved West Auckland had an excellent 3-2 away win at Consett and go fourth in the table.

Nathan Fisher put them into the lead with a curler from the edge of the box, but Consett equalised when Fisher and Adam Mitchell combined to set up Darren Richardson who fired West back into the lead, but again Consett hit back with a David Dowson penalty after he was brought down by West keeper Adam McHugh.

But Fisher showed why he’s the top scorer in the league when Consett failed to clear a corner, and he stroked the ball home for his 20th league goal of the season.

West manager Gary Forrest said; “In the first half we didn’t press the ball well enough but we changed things around at half time and we deserved the three points. We have played four of the top five in our last four league matches, which is a tough run of games.”

In the second division, Tow Law stretched their unbeaten run to twelve matches when they drew 1-1 at Bedlington.

Lawyers took the lead with a 49th minute penalty by Dean Thexton – his 12th league goal of the season – but that was cancelled by a spot kick at the other end by Jack Foallie.

Tow Law manager Steve Murray said; “We weren’t at our best, but it was a decent point.”

Lawyers are only one point clear at the top of the table now because Hebburn won 4-1 at Billingham Town to go second.

Northallerton were also held to a draw, but they were 2-0 up at one point against Willington before finishing 2-2. Jack Proctor put Northallerton into the lead from the spot, and Richie Walker made it 2-0 on the half hour.

Recent signing Matty Moffat pulled a goal back with a header on 68 minutes, and then four minutes later Tom Lazonby equalised.

Willington manager Rob Lee said; “Two defensive mistakes in the first half ending in a penalty cost us the first half. Second half we came out fighting with a great second half performance and two goals earned us a well-deserved point. We hit the bar and the post in the second half.” Northallerton have now dropped to third.

Durham City won 5-3 at Crook Town in the highest scoring game of the day.

Ben Joyeux put Durham into the lead only for Kyle Morris to equalise. But Durham got a grip on the game with goals by Calum Smith and Brad Hird, and after Dan Smith pulled a goal back, Hird made it 4-2. Calum Johnston gave Crook hope, but Dan Knowd finished them off.

Durham manager Olly Hotchkiss said; “It was a great result, and it could really have been more convincing. We had chances and couldn’t capitalise further. I was proud of the players in their attitude and application shown and we deserved our win. It’s been coming because performances have been good and I’m delighted that the players got their rewards.”

Chester-le-Street won for the first time since their opening league game of the season when they beat Esh Winning 2-0, with goals by Andy Clarkson and Michael Hepplewhite.

Chester-le-Street manager Colin Wake said; “It was a much better all round performance and we could and should have won by more goals than the two we scored. I was really pleased with the endeavour of the lads, given that we ended up with eight regulars missing for one reason or another. I had a happy Saturday night for a change!”

Esh Winning manager Tony Boakes said; “Too many players missing, and we were poor from start to finish. I don’t think we had a chance in 90 minutes, we were nowhere near good enough.”

Darlington RA picked up a welcome point in a 1-1 draw at Easington. Joe Wilson crowned his second debut with the equaliser early in the second half and they’re now just a point behind second bottom Alnwick.

Darlington RA manager Peter Mulcaster said; “I was annoyed at our first half performance, but I was much better in the second half when we could have won the game.”

Brandon drew 2-2 at Heaton Stannington , Vinny Gash rescuing a point with his second goal of the game just two minutes from the end. Jason White missed a penalty for Brandon in the first half.