Brandon manager Vince Kirkup believes his side can still beat the drop despite a 1-0 home defeat by Horden on Saturday.

A second half goal from Kevin Devine means Brandon are now just three points above the relegation zone, and they have played at least three games more than their rivals.

However, Kirkup is still optmisitic, and said: "If the lads can keep the same attitude that they've shown over the last few games, then we can still beat the drop.

"Most of our last seven games are against the top sides, and we play better against them. We've been terrible against the teams around us."

Brandon had a couple of chances in the first half, but David Foley and Craig Coates were both denied by Horden keeper Phil Naisbett, while Brandon keeper James Winter also pulled off a good stop from Jason Ainsley.

Winter, on a work experience placement from Hartlepool United, pulled off another good save from Horden striker Devine, but ten minutes from time Devine hit the winner from a Rob Huntley cross.

Tow Law lost their second home game in a week going down 2-0 at home to Billingham Synthonia, to leave them second from bottom, six points adrift of safety.

There weren't many chances in the game until Synners grabbed the points in the last fifteen minutes. Andy Fletcher opened the scoring for his 13th league goal of the season, then Lee Flanagan hit the second from an acute angle with seven minutes left.

Synners are now second in the table after Newcastle Benfield Saints lost 2-1 at Billingham Town, who are on course for a top seven finish.

Town led 2-0 at half time. They took the lead when Tom Jones crossed from the right for Carl Chillingsworth to hit the bar with an overhead kick - Danny Fox scoring from the rebound.

They went 2-0 up when Lee Ure laid off Martin O'Riordan's cross for Chillingsworth to beat the Saints keeper.

Saints had more of the game in the second half, and pulled a goal back through Stephen Young.

Peterlee stayed third bottom after they were beaten 1-0 at home by Durham City.

Both sides had good chances before Durham got the winner just after half time through Jamie Howe. City played with ten men for the last half hour after Craig Fishlock was dismissed for swearing. City hope to announce their new manager in midweek.

Consett moved above Brandon to sixth bottom after they drew 0-0 at Guisborough, who are expected to have three points deducted by the league at Thursday's meeting for fielding a suspended player.

West Auckland lost their fourth game in a row, going down 3-2 to Whitley Bay, to leave them four points above the relegation zone. Whitley took the lead on half time with a 20 yard shot by Paddy Little, but recent sign Dale Robinson levelled from the edge of the area for West.

Whitley regained the lead when Wayne Phillips scored from a right wing cross, then Chris Moore grabbed another with a header.

West's Dion Raitt was then dismissed for his second bookable offence, but they still pulled one back through Andy Gibson.

League leaders Dunston produced one of their poorer performances of the season, but they are still unbeaten in 29 games after a 1-1 draw with Morpeth.

Graeme Armstrong scored his 16th league goal of the season after a defensive mistake, but Morpeth levelled when Ben Keenan outpaced the Dunston defence to score.

Bedlington, the other ANL side through to the quarter finals of the Vase, drew 1-1 in their local derby at Ashington.

Bedlington took the lead after 12 minutes with a shot by Tony Chapman from a Robbie Cockburn pass, but Ashington leveleld with a header by Paul Hogg from a David Bibby cross.

Shildon drew 1-1 with Chester-le-Street at Dean Street.

Chester led at half time through Robbie Draper who scored from the rebound after his shot hit the post, but Shildon hit back in the second half.

Garry Barnes had a goal disallowed for offside, and then Steve Huggins ran from the halfway line and beat Ian Aitken with a low shot.

Northallerton are now top of the second division after they won 3-0 at North Shields. Simon Corrigan put Northallerton ahead, and then David Onions and Ross Foreman added further goals in the closing minutes.

The much-awaited game between the top two, Newcastle Blue Star and Washington Nissan, was postponed.

West Allotment came back from 3-2 down with 20 minutes left to beat South Shields 6-3.

Michael Chilton and Mark Rasmussen scored for West, but goals from Andy Hay, Lee O'Donovan and David Hague had Shields in the lead.

But the Shields defence folded in the clsoing stages, with Chilton and Rasmussen adding further goals, along with Andy Purvis and David Potts.

Crook's promotion chances now seem to have disappeared after they were hammered 6-0 at Prudhoe, for whom Simom Reay, Warren Fisher, Steve Mason, Graham Wilson, Scott Wilson and George Weatherley all scored

Norton continued their recent improvement by beating Whickham 3-2. They led 3-0 at one point with goals from Stephen Roberts, Lee Tucker and Tyson Masters, but Whickham hit back with a Michael Priestley own goal and a strike from Ian Robson.

Seaham striker Willie Crew scored twice in the last ten minutes to help his side beat Washington 3-2. The visitors earlier led with goals by Scott Oliver and Chris Creamer, with Dean Fox replying.

Bottom club Willington picked up a rare point when they drew 2-2 with Marske United.

Mark Brischuk and then James Seymour had Willington in front, but they were pegged back by Daniel Metcalfe and Gary Shardah. Seymour hit the bar for Willington in the last minute.

Second bottom Easington had a bad defeat, losing 5-1 at home to Alnwick. Paul Lang (2), Craig Jones, Mark Cockburn and Ashley Mallaburn all scored for Alnwick, with Mike Hardy replying.

Third bottom Hebburn did themselves a power of good when they beat Evenwood 3-0 to put them seven points clear of the bottom two. Tony Robinson, Paul Clegg and Jamie Elrington scored for Hebburn.