Chester-le-Street manager Stuart Sherwood paid tribute to his young team's character after they stunned league champions Whitley Bay with a 2-1 win at Hillheads.

Chester have been nervously looking over their shoulders at the relegation battle so far this season, but they displayed some real battling qualities to pick up three valuable points.

"The lads defended really well when they had their backs to the wall in the second half," he said. "We tried a new formation which the players adapted well to.

"Considering that we lost our previous away game badly at Ashington by 4-0, the players bounced back to win against the champions.

"It's typical of our young team. When we're good, we're really good, but when we're bad, we really are bad."

Scott Donaldson put Chester in front after six minutes from a corner, but Whitley's Mark Minto equalised following a good run.

But Chester regained the lead when Andy Cuthbertson spilt the defence for teenager Mark Anderson to score with a left foot shot.

Chester were forced back in the second half, but keeper Jos Carmichael pulled off some good saves.

Leaders Durham City stayed a point clear at the top thanks to a controversial late goal at Ashington.

City got off to a great start when Andy Appleby turned inside the box and scored with a low shot, but Ashington equalised through Robbie Cockburn from a corner.

Durham missed three good chances to increase their lead and had a penalty claim turned down, but they appealed successfully for another two minutes from the end, and Tommy English scored from the spot.

Consett came from behind to win 2-1 at Sunderland Nissan to stay on the heels of the leaders.

Despite missing several players, Nissan took a first half lead when former Darlington player Richard Hodgson scored from a pass by new loan signing Andy Bulford.

But Consett levelled five minutes after half-time when John Ewart scored with a low shot following a quickly taken free kick, and near the end David Pounder got the winner when he fired into the bottom corner.

Spennymoor won their first away game of the season when they hammered bottom club Jarrow Roofing 5-0.

Adam Johnston opened the scoring from a long ball by Mark Foster, then he scored the second from the edge of the area.

Player-manager Jason Ainsley set up Karl Richards to volley the third, then Johnston completed his hat trick from a loose ball after David Manson's shot was blocked. Richie Storr completed the scoring from another rebound.

Tow Law's run of seven straight wins ended when they were beaten 2-1 at home by Morpeth.

Peter Watling fired into the roof of the net to give them an early lead, but Morpeth equalised early in the second half when Stephen Young scored from a right wing cross.

Despite having most of the game, Lawyers were beaten when Kevin Henderson scored at the second attempt from another right wing cross.

Washington have now dropped into the bottom four after they were beaten 3-2 at home by West Allotment.

The visitors went 2-0 up with goals by Tom Vickers (30) and Andrew Johnson (38), but Washington hit back to equalise through Liam McBryde and Graham Low just after half-time. But Allotment kept their composure and got the winner though Andy Hay near the end.

Billingham Synthonia are now unbeaten in their last 11 games thanks to a 2-1 home win over Newcastle Benfield.

Simon Shaw put them in front from a free kick on 23 minutes, and they went further ahead on 52 minutes with a header by Shaun Hope. Paul Antony pulled one back for Benfield, who had defender Jonny Brown red carded.

Billingham Town's woes continued when they were comfortably beaten 4-0 at Shildon, finishing the game with nine men. Last season's runners up went a goal down when Adam Emson scored with a good shot, then Shildon went 2-0 up midway through the second half with a Dion Raitt free kick.

Danny Moore set up Tyson Masters for the third, then Town had defender Nick Harrison sent off for a professional foul on Wayne Gredziak, so Andy Howarth convered the penalty.

Then near the end Town's Anthony Chapman and Shildon's Raitt were both sent off for fighting, an incident which continued in the tunnel afterwards.

West Auckland boss Lee Ellison tasted defeat for the first time when his side lost 3-2 at Seaham Red Star after leading 2-1 at one point.

New signing Bryan Stewart gave them the lead with a 25 yarder, but Seaham's Warren Byrne equalised from close range.

Player-manager Ellison restored West's lead with a free kick, but Seaham's Lee Chapman equalised and then full back Jon Rattle hit a screamer from 30 yards for the winner on 75 minutes.

Bishop Auckland ended a run of four straight defeats when they drew 1-1 at Dunston.

Bishops' keeper Chris Porter did well to block a Steve Preen penalty after 30 minutes, and a few minutes later

Bishops went in front direct from a corner by new signing Michael Coghlan, who is starting his third spell at the club. Dunston piled on the pressure after that, and they deservedly equalised when Kevine Devine netted with a header midway through the second half.

Northallerton climbed away from immediate danger near the bottom when they beat Bedlington 3-0, all their goals coming in the second half.

Paul Hinton headed Northallerton into the lead, then Luke Bythway got the second with another header. Hinton then scored the third with a hotly disputed penalty near the end.