BILLINGHAM Synthonia gained a shock 1-0 victory away to defending champions Bedlington Terriers to hit the Northumberland side s hopes of a third successive league title.

Bedlington had a goal disallowed for offside when John Milner headed in after 20 minutes. Bedlington keeper Gary Popple had to make a fine save from Milner before Billingham scored what proved to be the winner in the 24th minute when Drew Coverdale s low cross was forced home at close range by Dave Connor.

Shotton Comrades look set for relegation after their 2-0 defeat at Morpeth Town. Shotton had an early chance when Brian Fairhurst set up Kevin Wilkinson only for Morpeth keeper Gareth McCnary to come out and smother the ball.

Morpeth took the lead with a David Ross header from a free kick in the 65th minute. Morpeth had Lee Douglas sent off for elbowing John Keegans with ten minutes to go, but it was the home side who added a second goal when Andy Dougdale went through to score in the last minute.

Two mystery dismissals hit Norton and Stockton Ancients who lost 3-2 at home to promotion rivals Washington Ikeda Hoover in Division Two. Norton took an 11th minute lead when Gary Alford scored at the far post from Darren Trotter s cross. Washington equalised in the 38th minute, Malcolm Reay heading in from a corner.

Washington went ahead on the hour with an Andy Lumsden drive. Norton levelled in the 73rd minute when Alex Digiourgis netted direct from a free kick.

Norton were then reduced to nine men with the separate dismissals of Andy Harbron and Jason Ptohopoulos. Both had been booked earlier, but Norton secretary Andy Boynton was unable to find out why they had been sent off. "I wasn t allowed to ask the referee about his decisions, and we will have to wait for his report," said Boynton.

Washington took advantage of their two extra men to score the winner in the 80th minute, Lee O Donovan toe-poking the ball in past Steve Brown.