Whitehaven coach Gary Charlton is having to explore the loan market after a glut of injuries threaten to derail his side’s League One title challenge.

They finished with 12 men against North Wales Crusaders and conceded two late tries to lose 24-22 at the Recreation Ground, their second defeat in a row. Jake Moore (hamstring), Carl Forster (dead leg), Jessie Joe Parker (head knock) and Scott McAvoy (knee) were all unable to return.

It was Parker’s assessment, after Ethan Kelly had gone on to replace him, that saw the substitute asked to leave the field because the Papua New Guinea centre had been deemed unfit to return.

Charlton said: “We already have Brett Phillips ruled out for a month with a fractured eye socket, while both Matty While and Ruarie McGoff are long-term absentees.

“We go to London at the weekend and it looks as though we are going to have to look at bringing in players on loan to make up the numbers.”

Charlton, however, was honest enough to give credit to North Wales who had been 22-16 behind going into the last 10 minutes.

“They played well and were the better side on the day. But, even so, I think our game management was lacking and we could have seen it through for the two points,” he said.

Haven had led 18-16 at half-time and it stayed that way until Phillips scored what looked to have been the crucial try after 70 minutes.

But, in a big finish, with Whitehaven lacking options from the bench and eventually down to 12, the Crusaders found their way through for two unconverted tries to win the game.

Anthony Murray, the Crusaders coach said: “We could see Whitehaven were really struggling for numbers and we knew that if we could just increase our intensity we could snatch it – and we did.”