Whitehaven welcomed 632 loyal supporters to the LEL Arena for the first time in close on 15 months yesterday.

It was a poignant day in other ways, as Haven’s grandstand was renamed in memory of the late Jimmy ‘Clem’ Clements, a lifelong fan and former kit manager.

And before the kick there was a fitting tribute to him and to another fan Turqir Blackwell, who sadly passed away at the age of 19 last month.

On the pitch Callum Phillips and prolific try scorer Andrew Bulman also returned for Gary Charlton’s side.

The return of fans to the LEL Arena was soon evident for referee Nick Bennett as the Haven faithful got on his back from the kick-off in true Cumbrian fashion as the sides traded sets before a penalty was awarded to Whitehaven on their own 30, Batley being caught offside.

A huge run from Lachlan Walmsley was thwarted by Johnny Campbell but to no avail as Chris Taylor went over to the left hand side of the Kells end after five minutes, Walmsley’s kick rattling the joining crossbar.

Haven continued to make good yards before Ellis Gillam knocked on 10 yards into the Haven half. The Bulldogs attack proved too much for Whitehaven as an offload from Dane Manning sent Luke Hooley over to give Batley a 4-6 lead after eight minutes.

A repeat set for Batley continued to build pressure and another penalty for a ball steal set the Bulldogs up 10 out from the Haven line, a superb tackle from Karl Dixon keeping the Bulldogs out.

A superb 40/20 from Nikau Williams sent Haven into the Batley 10. A repeat set for the hosts wasn’t capitalised on, but they did get the ball back when Luke Hooley went into touch. Haven were certain they were in on that set through Bulman, who was only disallowed by the referee. A stoppage in play was called when Bulman needed attention from his acrobatic effort.

Haven survived the Batley pressure and a late challenge that went unnoticed sent Batley away. A bomb left Greg McNally on the ground and handbags at 10 paces ensued. The result was a Whitehaven penalty. A further melee ensued when a late shot on Liam Cooper resulted in Toby Everrett sitting in the bin for 10 minutes on 19 minutes.

The resulting set saw Haven force the play and subsequently lose possession 10 from the Batley line. A repeat set for Batley as Haven knocked on trying to charge the ball down came to nothing as the Bulldogs appeared to lose the count.

Whitehaven made the halfway line but a Dion Ayie knock on gave Batley possession, however three tackles later Batley returned the favour. A poor end to set from Whitehaven gave Batley good field possession and a ball steal from Callum Phillips set Batley up 35 metres out.

Great defence from Haven kept the Bulldogs at bay. Haven were helped by a one-on-one strip from Karl Dixon as Batley returned to a full complement as Mossop went close. Haven then got a penalty for an attempted ball steal after the tackle was complete.

A brilliant swan dive from Walmsley sent the Haven faithful into delirium as Whitehaven took the lead eight minutes from half time, Haven 10-6 Batley.

A brilliant return set from Whitehaven set the LEL cauldron alight before an error from Bullman coming out of defence give Batley possession 20 out, a further penalty for Batley for offside. Haven held out and a beautiful passage of play from Bulman, Walmsey and Dixon sent the latter away as the former Wath Brow Hornet went in under the posts for 16-6 at half time.

The second half started in worrying fashion for Haven with an injury for Lachlan Walmsley but he was able to continue. A lovely break from Ayie wasn’t capitalised on as Elliot Hall cleaned up a Dixon kick. A knock on from Bulman gave Batley possession on the Haven 40. Batley were camped on the Whitehaven line following two penalties for a dunk tackle and a ball steal. Micheal Ward got the ball two metres away and nobody was going to stop him from there. After 46 minutes the Haven lead was cut to 16-12.

A repeat set from Batley built pressure on the Haven line and Tom Gilmoure forced a goal line dropout. From the resulting set Batley went in through former Workington Town man Elliot Hall. A touchline conversion gave Batley a 16-18 lead with 29 minutes to go.

From the resulting set Batley knocked on five metres inside their territory however with his first carry of the game Andrew Dawson knocked on. Offloads began to kill Haven and a contested kick was gratefully taken by Greg McNally. The resulting set resulted in a seven-tackle set as Oscar Thomas had too much on it.

Haven then conceded a repeat set from a knock on. Tom Lillycrop went over beside the posts as Haven looked to be losing the pace after 57 minutes, 16-24.

Batley began to steam roll up the pitch. Haven, to their credit, made 95 yards in the set but poor discipline again cost Charlton’s side with hands in at the ruck.

Batley then were pulled for a forward pass and Haven began to build; further added to with a penalty for a ball steal. Walmsley threw the ball away in disgust when referee Bennett ruled a knock-on.

Bulman gave Haven a lifeline with 15 to go as he outstripped Elliott Hall to go 45 metres to score out wide. Walmsley missed the conversion to leave it at Batley 20-24 to the good.

Whitehaven looked to get a second wind from the try. Batley then made 75 yards and turned Haven round on their 10-metre line. Greg McNally left the field of play with an Achilles injury in a massive injury blow to Whitehaven. Haven then got a penalty as Aussie fullback Walmsley was taken high.

A barnstorming run by Dion Ayie was undone when on half way Callum Philips threw a forward pass, but the pressure was undone when Batley got pulled for crossing. A half break from Walmsley was stopped and a Williams kick nearly ended up at Corkickle Station.

With eight minutes left on the clock came another potential injury concern for Charlton’s men as Callum Philips went down with an ankle strain. He was however able to continue.

A certain try was stopped by Ellis Gillam as Haven picked up tempo again. A penalty against Haven put Batley 20 metres out. A knock on from Whitehaven went unnoticed and then Haven were awarded a penalty for offside. A further penalty for a dangerous tackle on Dawson gave Haven a further chance to snatch a point.

A brilliant piece of defence from Batley fullback Hooley kept Haven at bay. Whitehaven chanced their arm in the last minute but to no avail as Batley held out to secure the win.