Bishop Auckland just held on for a hard fought victory against Newcastle Benfield by 3-2 even though they played for almost all of the game with ten men.

Bishops, who are now up to seventh, had defender Dan Parker dismissed for a professional foul after just 10 minutes, but the remaining ten rolled up their sleeves and produced a great first half performance, one of their best of the season.

Bishops took the lead when Gareth Ayers beat Andy Grainger in the Benfield goal with a deflected shot from a Craig Hodgson pass, then on 32 minutes Andy Johnson was brought down and he scored his 32nd goal of the season.

Johnson then proved why he is the division’s leading scorer at the moment with a 25 yard free kick that gave Grainger no chance.

Benfield improved in the second half, and they pulled one goal back when Adam Scope headed in, and Paul Anthony made it 3-2, but the ten men held on well.

Meanwhile, Benfield caretaker manager Perry Briggs has been told by the club that he has got the job on a permanent basis.

Bishop Auckland manager Colin Myers said: “We were outstanding in the first half, even though we were down to ten men. At the end of the game they knew they’d put a shift in.”

Newcastle Benfield manager Perry Briggs said; “We were atrocious in the first half. We are conceding a lot of soft goals, and the players need to have a good look at themselves.”

At the top, Sunderland RCA are now six points ahead after easily winning 3-0 at Norton. They took the lead when Mark Davison headed his 21st goal of the season from a Richie Paxton cross, then James Oates sent Joe Walton racing away to beat Norton keeper Chris Porter before half time.

It was 3-0 to the RCA midway through the second half when Jennings set up Davison to fire home.

Sunderland RCA manager Neil Hixon said: “The first half was a fantastic team performance. The second half was even, but we’d done enough and seen out the game comfortably.”

Spennymoor leapfrogged over West Auckland into second, six points behind leaders Sunderland RCA with three games in hand, after they won by the only goal of the game at Newton Aycliffe.

Sonny Andrews had an early shot cleared off the Aycliffe line, before Moors took the lead on 17 minutes when Keith Graydon opened up the Aycliffe defence for Craig Ruddy to run through and score. Leon Ryan and Andrews both missed good chances before half time, and after the interval Ryan headed against the crossbar.

Aycliffe’s best chance came early in the second half, but Danny Mellanby headed over from a few yards Spennymoor manager Jason Ainsley said: “We played very well but same old story, we missed chance after chance. We controlled the game from start to finish though.”

Newton Aycliffe manager Allan Oliver said: “We were second best, and 1-0 flattered us. We put in plenty of effort, but Spennymoor couldn’t finish us off.”

Tow Law are now virtually down with Stokesley after they threw away a two goal lead at Billingham Town and lost 3-2.

It looked good for Tow Law when Andy Thompson scored from a long ball after 21 minutes, and he fired another shortly after.

Lawyers held on until midway through the second half when Christian Selby started the revival with a goal for the home side, then David Onions levelled from the edge of the box on 77 minutes from a Chris Dunwell assist..

And with time running out, Onions kept his cool to head the winner from a Glenn Butterworth cross to virtually to ensure safety from relegation for his side. Lawyers are nine points from safety with just six games remaining.

Billingham Town manager Carl Jarrett said: “It was a superb comeback from the lads after another awful start. Once we got one back there was only one winner after that. Six games to go and a strong finish will see us finish in a comfortable position. We aren’t looking behind us now, but forward.”

Tow Law manager Ian Davison said: “It was a game of two halves. We had a great first half, and a terrible second half. It was like QPR v Liverpool last week.”

The third relegation place will probably be filled by either Penrith or Jarrow Roofing.

Penrith lost 3-1 at Billingham Synthonia, who had an excellent first half.

They took the lead with a 20 yarder by Chris Emms, then Jamie Blyth lobbed the keeper for the second on 27 minutes. Three minutes later, Danny Newby made it 3-0 with a 30 yard thunderbolt. Grant Davidson scored a late consolation for Penrith, who are above the relegation zone only by virtue of goal difference.

Billingham Synthonia assistant manager Lee Tucker said: “We played some brilliant football in the first half and got the goals that we deserved. We didn’t hit the same heights in the second half but it was always going to be difficult to maintain the same standard of play.”

Jarrow Roofing were beaten by the only goal of the game at Whitley Bay.

The home side had more of the possession in the first half and Lee Kerr forced an excellent save out of Roofing keeper Jon Carmichael. Just as it looked as if Roofing might pick up a valuable point, Chris Fawcett played the ball through for Paul Robinson to lift overt he keeper.

Jarrow Roofing manager Richie McLoughlin said: “We played well in a good game, but we couldn’t put the ball in the net. I’m not too down as performance was very good.”

Consett aren’t quite safe yet in fifth bottom after they were beaten 2-1 at home by Ashington.

The turning point in the game was a free kick awarded for a back pass after 25 minutes that Marc Walton scored from, and furious Consett had defender David Scorer dismissed for his protests. Former Consett striker Walton added a second on 35 minutes when he dribbled through and beat Peter Jameson.

Consett made a game of it early in the second half when Jack Stanger headed in from a Michael Mackay cross.

Consett manager Ken Lindoe said: “The referee spoiled the game. His decision to give a free kick for a back pass changed the whole game. They scored and we had 3 booked and one sent off as a result. We played with 10 for 70 minutes and were the better side in the second half but couldn't find the equaliser.The score today was ref 0,Consett 1,Ashington 2.”

Shildon’s brief relegation fears disappeared when they defeated South Shields 1-0 at Dean Street.

Sam Garvie, who recently returned to the club , hit the bar for Shildon early on, and then new signing Ben Wood gave them the lead from the penalty spot after he was brought down. Shildon missed a couple of chances to add further goals, while at the other end keeper Keith Finch made a good save from Peter Kane, while David Colvin also hit the bar.

Shildon manager Gary Forrest said: “We played very well first half but missed three 1on1s with keeper, second half we worked hard to grind out a win.”

Marske United scored all their goals in the second half in the 5-0 home win over bottom club Stokesley. Leon Carling headed Marske into the lead from a corner then Chris McGill struck twice in as many minutes. Danny Brunskill fired the fourth, then right at the end Craig Skelton struck the fifth.

Marske manager Paul Burton said: “I was pleased to get the win. We played well and took our chances. Five points out of the last three games is a good return. Five games to go and hopefully a few more points to pick up.”

Bedlington’s run of ten unbeaten league games came to an end when they were beaten 2-1 at home by Guisborough. James Decosemo crossed from the right for Nathan Steel to put Guisborough into the lead midway through the first half, but Anthony Shandran set up Glen Robson to equalise.

However, Guisborough kept their composure and wrapped up three good points when the Bythway brothers combined, Lee crossing for Luke to head the winner with five minutes left.

Guisborough manager Chris Hardy said: “On reflection this is up there with our best wins for the season, as Bedlington are a top side and I don't believe many sides will take all three points off them in their own back yard.”