Newton Aycliffe started 2013 at Moore Lane Park with a hugely important victory over Sunderland RCA.
Martin Young and Danny Earl struck in the second half to move the Royal Blues seven points above the drop zone after a sixth win in nine games.
Scott Pocklington conceded a penalty for the second successive game but the goalkeeper made amends with a terrific save from Gary Shaw’s spot-kick at a pivotal time in the game.
Allan Oliver handed a first start to Sean Reay in attack, while James Oliver moved over to right-back in the absence of the injured Stephen Gibson.
The first half was a quiet affair, with neither side managing to get a hold of proceedings.
Reay created the best chance of the half out of nothing but visiting keeper Lewis Graham saved well to ensure it was scoreless at the break.
But after a relatively dull opening period, the fans soon had something to shout about.
Five minutes after the interval referee Barry Gordon pointed to the spot after Shaw went down under Pocklington’s challenge. The Aycliffe players were incensed, feeling the former Darlington keeper had got his hands on the ball, but any injustice was soon avoided as Pocklington saved brilliantly down to his right.
Aristote Guerin-Lokonga did find a way past the goalkeeper three minutes later but the striker’s effort came bouncing back off the post.
And with that the Ryhope club appeared to believe it was not going to be there day.
The Newtonians’ belief soared. Reay caused problems down the right and when Sunderland failed to clear his cross properly, Stuart Owen let fly from the edge of the area but the ball flew narrowly wide of the target.
It was Reay’s last telling contribution as Oliver called for Kris Hughes and Paul Broom from the bench.
And nine minutes later Aycliffe took the lead. The excellent Young picked up the ball on the edge of the area and let fly with a low left-footed drive that found the bottom corner of Graham’s goal.
With 12 minutes left the Royal Blues made sure of the victory as Hughes did well down the left and pulled the ball back for Earl who clinically tucked home for his 10th league goal of the season.
He almost added an 11th in the dying stages after he was sent through by Woodhouse but his shot was well saved by Graham.
The Newtonians comfortably saw the game out to register only a fourth clean sheet of the season. And with the news that South Shields, Norton, Billingham Town and Newcastle Benfield had all failed to win, Aycliffe’s fans made their way home in high spirits.
Aycliffe: Pocklington; Oliver, Owen, Close, Craddock; Lambert (Broom), Hinchley (Knox), Young, Woodhouse; Reay (Hughes), Earl. Subs not used: Mellanby, Risbrough.