Crook produced their best performance of the season to topple joint leaders Chester-le-Street on Saturday, and manager Jamie Tunstall said that the performance had been coming.

Crook have been inconsistent this season, but have been showing some good form in recent weeks, and they stunned the league leaders with a first half goal by Liam Jarvie.

Tunstall’s side now lie nicely in midtable, and he said; “We’re delighted to get three points against the league leaders. I thought in the first half hour we were excellent and deserved to be in front but Chester grew into the game and put us under a lot of pressure second half. I thought we defended really well as a team and our keeper only really had a couple of saves to make. I've felt that a result was coming based on the last couple of performances and were really pleased to get three points.”

This was only Chester’s second league defeat of the season, and manager Colin Wake said; “We dominated the game but couldn't score down to poor finishing and great goalkeeping. Crook were always a threat on the counter but in the main we dominated possession which is strange for us. The goal we conceded was very poor defending and we were rightly punished. We have played a lot worse and won, it was just one of those afternoons where I couldn’t knock the effort but decisions and quality at vital times were lacking.”

The other joint leaders on Saturday morning, Thornaby, easily beat West Allotment 4-0 at Teesdale Park, to go three points clear at the top.

In the first division, Bishop Auckland were beaten by a last minute goal at home to Sunderland RCA.

Bishops missed several good chances in the first half but lacked the finish, and they fell behind to a header by Nathan O’Neill from a left wing cross.

Andy Johnson turned well on a lay off by Chris Winn to put Bishops level just on half time, and in the second half Darren Richardson had a goal disallowed, the second of the game.

O’Neill missed an easy header in the 89th minute, but in stoppage time he turned the ball in from a left wing cross for the winner.

Bishops boss Ian Chandler said; “It was a very frustrating day. We missed some good chances, and losing our only recognised centre half midway through the first half didn’t help. We got hit by the sucker punch, I thought a draw would have been a fair result bearing in mind the chances that we created.”

Bishops drop to sixth, while West Auckland are eighth after they lost 4-3 at Consett.

It looked good for them at half time when they led 2-1. Adam Mitchell fired into the bottom corner to put them in front, but Michael Sweet got the equaliser from a Max Craggs pass.

Alex Francis put West back into the lead from long range, but it all went wrong for them in the second half.

Sweet equalised from the penalty spot following a foul on Craggs, and then Craggs and Luke Carr combined well to give him his hat trick. Carr was again the provider for Sweet to score his personal fourth near the end, and also to give him seven in his last three games. Nathan Fisher scored a late goal for West, but it was too late.

West Auckland manager Gary Forrest said; “It was an excellent first half, but I was lost for words in the second.”

Consett are now top of the table on goal difference from Sunderland RCA and Hebburn.

Newton Aycliffe manager Deano Browne warned his players about a backlash at Newcastle Benfield after the home side sacked manager Mark Convery, and his words were proven when they were beaten 3-0.

“It was the worst performance of the season against a Benfield side who gave their all for the new manager,” said Browne. “We were second best throughout and conceded some poor goals. The next game can't come soon enough.”

Former Aycliffe player Dennis Knight gave Benfield the lead from the spot after Benfield caretaker manager Paul Brayson was fouled, then Joe Robson scored a second. Brayson added a third before half time.

In the other games, Stockton Town hammered bottom club Penrith 8-0, with Nathan Mulligan scoring four of them.

Seaham Red Star dropped into the bottom two because of a 3-1 away defeat at Ashington, and Whickham moved above them by drawing 1-1 with North Shields.

Hebburn were knocked off the top after losing 4-1 at home to Whitley Bay for whom Jack Foalle scored in his ninth successive game.

Guisborough are three points above the relegation zone after losing 3-1 at Ryhope CW.

In the other second division games, Northallerton put in one of their worst performances of the season, losing 5-0 at Heaton Stannington, and manager Darren Trotter was naturally furious.

“We have come to the point of where something has to change,” he said. “Two horrendous results back-to-back and the third heavy defeat of the season.

“These are the same players who got us a fourth place position last year but have not kicked on and everyone is raising their game against us.

“We need to freshen the dynamics of the team up and re-evaluate the expectation levels of what can be achieved. It’s disappointing but sometimes you have to take a step back to make bigger steps forward.”

Tow Law had a good result, holding third placed Billingham Town to a goalless draw at Ironworks Road, and manager Steve Murray said; “We deserved to win. No luck, but a great performance.”

Despite the point, Lawyers have dropped to fourth bottom, because of Washington’s 3-1 home win over promotion chasing Jarrow. Billingham are still unbeaten and are third in the table.

Willington crept closer to the leaders by beating Bedlington 4-1 at Hall Lane.

They led 2-0 with goals by Lewis Milner and Connor Winter, but Bedlington got back into the game with a goal by Ronnie Jones from a penalty rebound.

But Willington kept their nerve and scored twice in the closing minutes through Jeff Smith and Dean Thexton.

Willington manager Rob Lee said; “It was a great result. We played some great football in the first half. We knew Bedlington would come at us in the second half, we defended well as a unit and took all three points. Bedlington brought the score back to 2-1, we dug in and scored two late goals to finish the game.”

Durham City won only their second game of the season by coming back from 2-1 down to win 3-2 at Billingham Synthonia, all of their goals coming from Jamie Hayman, his second and third being penalties.

Manager Wayne Gredziak said; “I have been saying that we were not a million miles away for a couple of weeks now and the players proved to me and the league that we are going to compete in every game. In all honesty we deserved the 3-2 win. We battled from the start to finish and I am immensely proud of everyone of my players and believe our season will push on from here.”

Esh Winning were narrowly beaten 2-1 at Easington, and they drop to third bottom.

Esh Winning manager Tony Boakes said; “Missed chances cost us at least a point. It was a good game with Easington having more of the ball but missed chances before Easington scored had us on back foot. A few changes at half time saw us adapt better in second half but again we missed good chances before Easington’s second finished the game off.”

Dan Mitchell scored late on for Esh after Liam Cooke and Jack Pounder were on target for Easington.

Brandon won their first league game of the season by 1-0 at home to league newcomers Redcar Athletic, Jack Carr scoring after 38 minutes.

In the other second division games, Ryton and Crawcrook beat promotion chasing Birtley 2-1 and Washington climbed out of the bottom three with a 3-1 home win over Jarrow.