Whitehaven were left to rue an error-strewn performance at home to fellow strugglers Oldham as they slumped to a 14-16 defeat.

Haven almost grabbed an early lead but a smart kick through from Callum Phillips close to the line was fumbled by the Haven player looking to scoop it up and Oldham recovered.

The Roughyeds charged straight down the other end and, when an attempted kick bounced back into the arms of an Oldham player, they got over the whitewash through Gareth Owen to open the scoring. Rubbing salt into the wound was former Haven man Dan Abram, who added the extras for an early 6-0 lead after four minutes.

A chance to respond immediately was squandered when Karl Dixon looked to tap the ball through but it was gratefully gobbled up by a visiting player and minutes later, when Haven had the chance to threaten again, Sam Forrester tried the same move and got the same result.

While Haven were soaking up the attacks, there was a sense that they needed someone to relieve the pressure.

It didn’t come and, when referee Michael Mannifield handed Oldham a penalty for Tom Walker holding down, Abram made no mistake as his kick was good to put them 8-0 up.

Oldham were looking to punish Whitehaven for their wastefulness, with Lewis Charnock driving them down the field but the half-time hooter saved the home side just as their opponents looked set to add to their lead.

Haven needed a reaction in the second half, with defeat at home to one of the favourites for relegation something that didn’t bear thinking about for coach Gary Charlton.

Callum Phillips went close and the ball was spun out quickly following his charge to Dion Aiye to crash over and pull four points back. Jake Moore stepped up but his conversion attempt was unsuccessful as Haven halved the visitors’ lead.

That try seemed to fire the hosts up, but on the 56-minute mark they handed their opponents a free hit as Forrester tripped an Oldham player bearing down on Haven’s try line and was sin-binned, with the referee giving them a penalty try which Abram converted.

They needed an instant reaction and they got it as once again Aiye stretched out and got the ball down over the line to close the gap again, with Moore hitting the target this time to convert and reduce the deficit to four points once more.

But Haven shot themselves in the foot with another penalty which Abram duly kicked through the sticks after 67 minutes to add to Oldham’s advantage.

Dixon had tried kicks through all evening but, with 10 minutes to play, he finally struck gold with one as Jason Mossop scrambled through, only for James Newton to smash his kick off the right post. That was as close as Haven came, as Oldham ran down the clock to give Charlton much to think about.