Durham manager Billy Harper is confident his team will get better after losing his first game in charge by 7-2 against Easington on Saturday.

Harper became Durham’s third manager of the season - -four counting the one game that chairman Olivier Bernard took charge of in between managers – and he now has an idea of the task ahead of him in the second division as City try to reduce the eleven-point gap to safety.

Harper, who was previously in charge of Blyth Spartans reserves, saw his team play well in the first half and take the lead in the process, but they conceded six times when they faded in the second half.

“We were by far the better team and really should have a been a good couple of goals ahead at half time,” he said. “However, Easington were by far the better side in the second half. Our decision making in critical areas was poor which Easington took full advantage of. Our new additions to the team were very positive throughout the 90 minutes.

“They were a deserved three points for Easington in the end, but I’m confident we will get better.”

Durham took the lead through new signing Carl Pottinger on 27 minutes, but Liam Adamson and Jack Pounder both scored hat tricks for Easington, with Daniel Martin chipping in. Pottinger scored Durham’s second goal when they were 4-1 down in the second half.

In the first division, Bishop Auckland stayed third and are unbeaten in their last nine matches after winning 2-1 at fourth bottom Guisborough.

They took an early lead with a good effort by Shaun Ryder, and then Chris Salmon hit the bar.

Darren Richardson made it 2-0 on 58 minutes when he forced the ball home at the third attempt from a corner. Guisborough had Steven Roberts sent off on 66 minutes, with Bishops’ Lewis Gibbons following him ten minutes later.

The home side pulled a goal back from the penalty spot through Mark Robinson for a handball offence with nine minutes left, and Bishops held on for sixth away league win of the season to keep them seven points behind joint leaders Dunston and Consett.

Bishop Auckland manager Ian Chandler said; “I was delighted with the win. It was a hard-fought game with some dubious referring decisions. But he was in the middle and I was always 30 to 40 yards away so he probably had the better position to see things. It was a great finish from Shaun Ryder again and scramble from Daz Richardson got us the three points which was the end goal.”

West Auckland’s ten game unbeaten run came to an end when they were beaten 2-0 at Newcastle Benfield, for whom Jake Orrell and Paul Brayson scored.

Manager Gary Forrest said; “We were poor, there were too many players going through the motions. We were better in the second half, but a soft goal knocked the stuffing out of us.”

West remain fourth, five points behind Bishops.

Shildon dropped to 11th place when they were held to a 1-1 draw at bottom club Penrith.

Ben Trotter fired into the top corner to give Shildon the lead in the first half, but Grant Davidson equalised with a deflected shot.

Shildon manager Danny Moore said; “We should have been out of sight by half time then conceded an own goal on halftime which gave them something to hang on to, but I'm taking the positives into next week.”

Newton Aycliffe came from behind to win 2-1 at Whickham to lift them ten points above the relegation zone.

Whickham took the lead with an effort by Max Cowburn, but after Whickham’s Damien Stevens was sent off, Aycliffe levelled on 79 minutes with a header by Kurt Matthews, and Ethan Wood scored the winner in stoppage time with a free kick.

Newton Aycliffe manager Deano Browne said; “We were second best in the first half and if it wasn't for our keeper, James Winter, Whickham could have been out of sight. Some strong words were said at half time and a change of formation got us back into game. When they went down to ten men, we were the better team and deserved the win.”

In the other matches, second placed Consett beat Ashington 2-0 at Belle View, while Dunston remain top on goal difference after beating Seaham Red Star away by 2-0.

Stockton had a good 4-2 home win over Sunderland RCA, while Ryhope came from behind to beat Whitley Bay 3-1.

North Shields are fifth after beating Hebburn 4-1.

In the second division, Chester-le-Street are up to third by beating Ryton and Crawcrook 2-0 away from home, with goals by Michael Hepplewhite and Owen Henderson.

Chester-le-Street manager Colin Wake said; “It was a very honest performance on a shocking pitch which meant football was at a premium. Over the 90 minutes we were the better side and created the better chances although at 2-0 Kevin Dixon made an excellent goal line clearance but overall it was a comfortable win and a welcome three points.”

Willington had a good 0-0 draw at Heaton Stannington to stay in sixth place on goal difference behind their opponents.

Willington manager Rob Lee said; “It was a well-earned point considering the players we had missing. All the lads did a brilliant job and played some great football. All were a credit to Willington.”

Esh Winning climbed up to fifth bottom courtesy of a good 2-1 away win at Bedlington, Jayven Redman scoring both goals after they had gone behind.

Manager Tony Boakes said; “It was another game in which we had to dig in and grind out the result. It was a great response after going down 1-0 to a deflection.”

Crook Town lost on their first ever league visit to Redcar Athletic by 4-2, which means they drop below their opponents in the table. They were level 2-2 at one stage with goals by Cameron Holliday and Liam Jarvie, before Redcar scored twice in the last five minutes.

Crook manager Jamie Tunstall said; “It feels like I keep repeating myself every week but again I thought for large spells we played well and were the better side. But you don't get anything for playing well in football, you've got to win games and we're not doing that at the moment. We're a great side to watch but I'd much rather us win ugly than play nice and get beat like we're doing at the minute.”

Tow Law went down 3-1 at Jarrow, with recent signing Steve Aiston scoring their goal just after the hour when they were 2-0 down.

Manager Steve Murray said: “I’ve never felt as disappointed with the big decisions that went against my team. I hate managers who blame officials but today I can’t help being bitterly disappointed with two massive calls that went against us at critical times.”

The game between Brandon and Northallerton was postponed because of damage to the stand caused by Friday night’s high winds.

At the top of the table, Billingham Town won their local derby 4-0 against Billingham Synthonia thanks to a hat trick by Craig Hutchinson, while Thornaby beat Birtley thanks to a last-minute winner.