Aidan Heywood struck a 94th-minute winner to give Team Northumbria a narrow 2-1 win over Easington Colliery on Saturday afternoon.
Scott Gunn fired Team Northumbria into a 49th-minute lead but Jack Pounder levelled the scoreline 20 minutes from time.
However, heartbreak was to follow as Heywood, who was with the Colliers last season, fired home following a scramble to keep Team Northumbria top of the league.
Easington Colliery made two changes from last Saturday’s win over Alnwick Town with Michael Bulmer and Aidan Goodey giving way for Jack Pounder and Chris Freeman.
The Green Army started brightly and inside the opening 100 seconds, David Paul held the ball up well to find Reece Kenney but he fired narrowly wide from 20 yards.
As the hosts grew into the game, Ben Dibb-Fuller forced a save from Ethan Anderson while Heywood fired a low effort which was blocked.
Easington were playing some positive football and 12 minutes in, good work from Paul won a corner. Kenney swung an inch-perfect ball into the penalty area but no one gambled and the students were able to clear.
Andre Ardelean was prevented a goalscoring opportunity by a fine challenge from Brennan Ball while the same man headed wide not too long later.
The lively Ardelean had another great chance before the half hour mark but a fine save from Anderson prevented the former Durham City man.
Despite a spell where the students were on top, Easington came out again and went close to breaking the deadlock 10 minutes before the break. Pounder’s superb touch brought down a high ball and he quickly turned before curling narrowly wide from the edge of the penalty area.
Chris Freeman went in the book for what looked a perfectly timed challenge five minutes before the break but Easington defended the resulting corner well.
Paul had a go in the final few minutes of the first half only for his effort to be blocked and despite failing to find a breakthrough, Easington went into the break pleased with their first half performance.
Easington skipper Chris Pearson dragged wide with the first chance of the second half only for Team Northumbria to take the lead soon after. An in swinging corner wasn’t dealt with and it dropped to Gunn who fired into the roof of the net.
Ball and Paul both went close for Easington as they looked to respond; the latter with a curling 25-yard free-kick which forced Steven Mundy into a save.
Team Northumbria’s lead could have been doubled in the 65th minute when a low shot beat Anderson but Peter Jones was able to clear off the line to keep the Green Army’s hopes alive.
And, Jones’ goal-line clearance would prove even more vital when Pounder pulled the Green Army level 20 minutes from time. Kenney knocked a ball into the penalty area which Paul flicked onto Pounder and his cool ensured an exciting final quarter of an hour.
Easington were now on top and Team Northumbria’s confidence had noticeably dropped. Buoyed by the equaliser, the Green Army kept pushing and chances eventually came.
Substitute Lewis Turnbull whipped a superb cross into the penalty area to find Paul who, with the help of a nudge in the back by a defender, could only head over.
The game was very end-to-end in the final exchange and Easington were let off when Heywood sent a free header wide.
Dylan Nesbitt received a skewed ball before two kick ups set him up for a volley which dipped not too far wide.
The heartbreak came in the 94th minute when Easington didn’t clear a corner and it found a way to Heywood who smashed home to summon his former club to defeat.
Full-time: Team Northumbria 2-1 Easington Colliery
Team Northumbria: Mundy (c), McNamara, Cristea, Redford, McKeown, Chrostowski, Hay, Heywood, Ardelean (Ballantine, 80′), Dibb-Fuller (Richardson, 73′), Gunn (Jewitt, 90′)
Unused subs: Carr, Barnes
Easington Colliery: Anderson, Freeman (Turnbull, 67′), Jones, Pearson (c), Ball, Kenney, Croft (Norton, 80′), Page, Paul, Pounder, Adamson (Nesbitt, 67′)
Unused subs: Bulmer, Donaldson