Billingham Town manager Alan Robinson sprang a surprise by quitting the Durham Challenge Cup winners straight after Saturday's FA Vase defeat to join Horden.

Robinson, who had been at Bedford Terrace for five seasons, replaces Eddie Freeman, and takes former Hartlepool player Jason Ainsley with him as assistant manager.

"I felt that I'd taken Town as far as I could, and I don't think I could have done any better," said Robinson.

"When the job became available, we felt that we couldn't turn that sort of challenge down, but we're sad to leave Town because it's a great club. We've had some really good times there."

Micky Watson was yesterday appointed as the new manager at Bedford Terrace. He has been on the coaching staff at Town, and was previously manager of Thornaby.

Billingham Town secretary Glenn Youngman said: "The first I heard about Alan going was when somebody rang me on Thursday applying for our vacant manager's position! I think Horden should have rung us out of courtesy."

Horden, meanwhile, lost 3-2 at home to new league leaders Newcastle Benfield Saints, who finished the game with nine men.

Saints took the lead on 23 minutes through Dean Fuller following a mix up in the Horden defence, and they went further ahead when Young scored from a right wing cross. Fuller ran through to score the third just before half time.

But there was drama in the second half. Saints' Sean Bell was red-carded for two cautions in the space of a minute, then Andy McKenna pulled two goals back, one of them from the spot. Saints had another man, Carl Baston, red carded for violent conduct, and in the last minute McKenna hit the crossbar.

Prudhoe manager Gavin Liddle was the second manager to quit his job at the weekend after their 1-0 defeat at Seaham Red Star for personal reasons. The former Darlington player has been in charge for almost two seasons, but his side have failed to win any of their last five league games.

Willie Crew scored for Seaham in the first half, and then missed a penalty near the end.

And in another managerial twist, First Division Consett have appointed John King as their new manager. King has been helping Jeff Sugden in a caretaker capacity since Tony Harrison left, and the club have decided to appoint him permanently.

"The players have really responded to John since he took over the coaching, and he's got some good credentials," said secretary Ian Hamilton.

Sugden and senior player Rod Butler will help with coaching.

Consett lost 2-0 at Ashington on Saturday. There were plenty of chances in the game before the home side took the lead on 49 minutes when Paul Hogg scored from a Ross Atkinson cross. Five minutes from the end Alan Hogg got the second from the spot after he had been brought down.

Billingham Synthonia suffered only their second defeat of the season when they lost 3-1 at home to Durham City.

City took the lead through Micky Dunwell's header from John Watson's corner, and they went 2-0 up when Mark Patterson made a good run down the left and set up Michael Mackay to score from close range.

Synners pulled a goal back when Lee Flanagan scored from the edge of the box, but City made the game safe when they scored with another header, this time through Justin Keegan forcing the ball home from a corner.

Guisborough are still second bottom after they lost 3-0 at home to Whitley Bay, who are now sixth.

David Turner curled in a free kick to give Whitley the lead after just four minutes, then he supplied another setpiece for Adam Johnston to glance home.

And just on half time the points were safe when Johnston scored from the spot after Mark Spencer was brought down.

Tow Law's much awaited return to Ironworks Road was thwarted when their match with Chester-le-Street was postponed because of a frozen pitch.

In the other second division matches, Newcastle Blue Star won 5-0 at Kennek Ryhope CA to extend their unbeaten run to twelve matches and put them three points clear at the top. Andy Dugdale (2), David McMahon (2) and Michael Fenwick, who has now bagged 20 league goals for the season, scored.

Washington Nissan are now second after a 1-0 away win at South Shields, Chris Leonard scoring from a free kick early in the game. Nissan included full back Johnny Butler, re-signed from Spennymoor.

Northallerton played for over an hour with ten men at Marske United and won 3-1. Midfielder Steve Cochrane was dismissed for swearing after just twenty minutes. New signing Craig Skelton and Andy Swalwell put them 2-0 up, and after Marske pulled a goal back through Paul Jack, Skelton scored a cracker from 20 yards for the third.

Willington's misery continued at the bottom when they lost 6-1 at home to Norton, for whom Graeme Baverstock (2), John Outhwaite, Steve Roberts, Lewis Powell and Chris Wrathmull scored. Gavin Thirling got Willington's goal.

Penrith are now sixth after a 3-0 win at North Shields, where Andy Douglas (2) and Tom Brough scored.

Crook came from behind to win 4-1 at second bottom Easington, with Jonathan Milroy (2) , Danny Mellanby and Andrew Shaw scoring their goals after Chris Basford opened the scoring for Easington.