Newton Aycliffe striker Matty Pennal fired his team back into promotion contention when he scored a hat trick in their 4-3 win at Whickham on Saturday.

Aycliffe’s victory, which was achieved without several players because of injury, put them sixth in the table, nine points behind the promotion places with games in hand.

Manager Colin Stromsoy said; “They were a totally deserved three points. We took a deserved 2-0 lead but made bad decisions and lost our discipline to allow them back into the game. The referee overruled an offside for them to allow a goal to stand which was probably the right decision but very rare and very frustrating.

“We changed a few things at half time and dominated the second half and should have scored a lot more but eventually emerged with the three points thanks mainly to Matty’s hat trick.”

Pennal twice put Aycliffe into the lead on 23 and 36 minutes, only for Dale Burrell and Ben Harmison to pull Whickham level.

He completed his hat trick seven minutes after half time, and then Lewis Walton made it 4-2 before Harmison pulled a late goal back.

Third placed Shildon dropped points in a 2-2 draw at third bottom Thornaby.

The Railwaymen were 2-0 up with two goals by Zak Atkinson, but Adam Preston pulled a goal back on the hour, and then levelled with three minutes left.

Shildon manager Danny Moore said; “Thornaby deserved at least a point so on the whole I'm pleased with a point looking at the other results from teams below us.”

West Auckland moved up to seventh, even though they were held to a dull goalless draw at Ryhope CW. Manager Gary Forrest said; “It was an awful game on a difficult pitch A draw was a fair result, both sides worked hard.”

Bishop Auckland had a good 2-1 win home win over Penrith to keep their very slim promotion hopes alive.

Chris Winn put them ahead after just three minutes, and he added the second with a great overhead kick, before Penrith pulled one back on 73 minutes and caused some anxious moments.

Bishop Auckland manager Ian Chandler said; “It was one of those games where if we'd taken half our chances in the first half we'd have been 6-0 up. Several of the missed chances were hard to take and we all knew what was coming the longer the game remained 1-0. But we scored the goal of the season after ten minutes of second half through Chris Winn's overhead kick from a very tight angle. Then we lost our way in midfield and allowed Penrith more of the ball. They scored one and created three other great efforts which thankfully Nick Liversedge saved brilliantly to gained us the victory.”

Bottom club Northallerton collected a morale-boosting point at home to promotion chasing Consett.

Northallerton manager Darren Trotter said; “We’re really pleased to start the new year with a point.

“We rode our luck at times and should have been behind early in both halves, but we worked hard and got something that makes a big difference moving forward this year.”

Stockton Town are still a point clear at the top after beating Billingham Town 2-0 in their local derby and Hebburn are second after they won 3-0 at Ashington.

North Shields lost 3-1 at home to Sunderland RCA and dropped to fifth, below Consett on goal difference, which was good news for Shildon.

In the second division, Crook Town stay fourth in the table after they beat Sunderland West End 3-1 at the Millfield.

Daniel Kent put them in the lead, and after Adam Drysdale levelled for West End, Nathan Stephenson and Christian Holliday were on target for Crook in the second half.

Crook manager Jamie Tunstall said; “We weren't at our best, but we showed some real battling qualities against a resolute hard-working West End side. Looking at the results it was important we got three points as all the sides around us won. We were much more like ourselves in the second half and it sets us up nicely for an important game midweek against Tow Law.”

Willington won the Hall Lane groundshare derby against Durham City by 3-0, with goals by Adam Storey, Luke Bailey and Ryan Cummings. Bailey was sent off for a last man foul just after he scored his goal to make it 2-0.

Willington manager Ibby Hassan said; “I thought that we dominated proceedings early on with two goals but the sending off for us changed the dynamic somewhat. They missed the following penalty and that gave us the lift to see it out to half time.

“Second half we were very disciplined keeping a clean sheet again and looking very comfortable. I thought our changes worked well with Cummings coming on and shoring up the result.

“Very happy with the result and performance with plenty of positives to take into our midweek game against Sunderland U23s.”

Esh Winning climbed well away from the bottom three after Channon North gave them a stoppage time victory over Washington at Waterhouses. Dan Quine put Washington ahead earlier, with Max Stoker equalising.

Esh Winning manager Tony Boakes said; “You could tell we hadn't had a game for two weeks. It took us 25 minutes to get a grip of the game after going a goal down.”

Esh have climbed up to fifth bottom, fourteen points above the relegation places.

Chester-le-Street’s thin promotion hopes suffered a major blow when they were beaten 3-2 at home by Carlisle City.

Manager Colin Wake said; “It was another really disappointing result given the improved performance we turned in. We dominated possession but conceded three poor goals from our point of view. We should have got something from the game, but goals win games and we didn't do enough in the final thirds of both ends to improve the outcome.”

Chester were 2-1 up at one point with goals by Owen Henderson and Michael Hepplewhite.

Tow Law held their nerve at Birtley to win 3-2.

They were 3-0 up with goals by Matty Moffat (2) and Scott Oldfield by half time, and Birtley stormed back in the second half when Mark Pattison was sent off and scored twice.

Tow Law manager Micky Vasey said; “We dominated the first half. We went 3 up, and ten minutes into the second half we had a man sent off, they got their tails up and pressed but we held on for a good win.”

Brandon had a bad day, going down 7-1 at Jarrow, Liam Bain scoring their goal to make it 2-1 at one point.

Brandon manager Rob Bowron said; “We matched Jarrow all over the field for 65 minutes, so to come away in that way is heartbreaking. We are all working so hard to rescue this situation and to have periods like that is the reason we are where we are. The flip side, is we can be a great football side - just nowhere near consistent enough.”

Brandon are eight points away from safety.

The clash at the top of the table between leaders West Allotment and second placed Redcar saw the visitors win 1-0.