Crook Town put themselves firmly in promotion contention with an excellent 5-2 home win over third placed Ryton and Crawcrook in the ENL Second Division on Saturday.

Striker Martin Kent was their hero, firing a hat trick to put his team into fourth place and four points behind the top three promotion places with two games in hand.

Crook manager Jamie Tunstall said; “I was delighted with the result and performance. Our players showed real character and desire to win the match which I thought we dominated for large periods of the game. Ryton have been going well and are rightfully at the top end of the table. Conditions were tough at times and the pitch cut up, but we still played at the right times. It was a very important win for us.”

Kent put Crook into the lead on 22 minutes, but Ryton levelled early in the second half.

However, Kent completed his hat trick by the 70th minute, and even though Scott Jasper pulled a goal back, Christian Holliday and Arthur Connelly scored further goals.

In the first division, Shildon moved into second place with a comfortable 5-1 away win at Billingham Town.

Billy Greulich-Smith ran riot, scoring his fifth hat trick of the season. David Palmer put Shildon into an 8th minute lead, with Greulich-Smith adding the second on 16. Mattie Robinson pulled a goal back for Billingham, but Greulich-Smith and Dean Thexton made it 4-1 by half time, Greulich-Smith completed his hat trick midway through the second half.

Shildon are above Hebburn on goal difference, but more importantly six points ahead of fourth placed Consett.

Stockton are now six points clear at the top with games in hand after beating Bishop Auckland 2-1 at Bishopton Road West.

Jamie Owens scored both goals for Stockton, before Kieron Parnaby replied with a cracking 25 yarder for Bishops.

“It was a very good performance from us against the top team in the league, a complete opposite to last week,” said manager Ian Chandler. “We restricted Stockton to next to nothing in the first half only to gift them the lead at the stroke of half time with a misplaced pass and bad control. The second half was very similar, however we pressed a little more leaving some space which Stockton capitalised on midway through, scoring a second goal. But we dug in and fought back, scoring a great goal from Kieron Parnaby's strike. We just couldn't get an equaliser our performance probably deserved.”

Stockton manager Micky Dunwell said: “The points keep us going in the right direction.”

West Auckland were held to a dull goalless draw at home by Ashington, with very few chances created.

West manager Gary Forrest said; “I didn’t need any help getting sleep. Neither goalkeeper made a save.”

Guisborough held Hebburn to a 2-2 draw at the King George. They took the lead through Steve Roberts, but after Graeme Armstrong and Ollie Martin hit back for Hebburn, Luke Nixon fired the equaliser.

Guisborough manager Gary Forster said; “It was a great game of football though and Hebburn are a top side.”

Thornaby, with Craig Haley in charge for the first time, lost 5-0 at home to Consett, three of the goals coming in the last ten minutes. “The game was a tough test, but I was pleased with the team’s efforts.”

In the other games, Newcastle Benfield drew 1-1 with Penrith, and Ryhope CW beat Whitley Bay by the best of seven.

Northallerton’s home game with Seaham, and Whickham’s home game with Sunderland RCA were both postponed.

In the other second division games, ten man Willington were beaten 1-0 at home by league leaders West Allotment.

Manager Ibby Hassan said; “I was very disappointed in the result but proud of the performance.

“I felt that having played with 10 men for a good hour we controlled the game for large parts and created some good chances. I felt that how disappointed we were coming off and how relieved they were was indicative of how well the lads played. West Allotment defended well though and showed why they are top of the division. We go again on Saturday against Brandon with lots of positives to take into that game.”

Willington’s Dale Elgie was dismissed on 31 minutes, with Matthew Hayton scoring from the subsequent penalty.

Bottom club Brandon’s cause is looking even more lost after they were hammered 7-0 at Tow Law, for whom Matty Moffat scored a hat trick, with Jason White (2), Jeff Smith and Michael Brown also scoring.

Tow Law manager Micky Vasey said; “It was a great win. Brandon battled hard, but it’s another three points in the bag.”

Brandon manager Rob Bowron said; “We were poor. But again, it was a mad fifteen minutes that caused our problems. We know the restrictions at the club financially, but that doesn’t get away from the errors we have made and not learning from them. We just need a spark, from anywhere at the moment!”

Second bottom Durham didn’t fare much better, losing 6-0 at Billingham Synthonia, leaving them six points from safety.

Chris Dickinson (2), Alex Bruton (2), Dominic O’Connor and Danny Earl scored the goals.

Synners manager Dave Dickson said; “If it wasn’t for their keeper, then we would have scored more.”

Chester-le-Street were held to a 1-1 draw by Easington, Chris Stephenson’s goal for Chester being cancelled out by Liam Adamson.

Chester-le-Street manager Colin Wake said; “It was a very gutsy performance against a really good Easington side. We played well on the counter attack first half and deservedly took the lead. We were under pressure most of the second half and suffered with a few injuries to key players which prevented us from hurting them as we had first half, but we battled gamely to earn our first draw of the season.”

Esh Winning and Sunderland West End shared the points in a goalless draw, and Esh manager Tony Boakes said; “It was a good solid team performance from us. We should have won but overall I was happy with a point.”