Aspatria‘s remarkable renaissance in North Two West continued with a 13-12 win at Southport which propelled the Black Reds to sixth in the table.

An 11-point gap now separates them from Bolton, the side currently holding down the final relegation position.

Despite playing into a stiff breeze the home side started confidently, regaining the ball from the kick-off and forcing a penalty to provide an immediate three-point advantage.

On 16 minutes Aspatria were awarded a penalty on the half-way line and Clegg decided to try his luck with the wind at his back and the kick split the posts.

The game remained bogged down around half way and the high error count continued. A second Clegg penalty on 22 minutes gave Aspatria a slender lead, but with the wind having a big say in the game they needed more.

Stand-off Josh Watson did well to pounce on a loose ball, pick up and race downfield.

Minimal defence was in front of him as he closed in on the line but his support was just too far out of range for a pass to reach them and the opportunity was gone.

Fortunately the home side again lost possession just inside their half thanks to some big hits from the Black Reds' pack.

The first man on the ball was Jamie Lightfoot, who had around 30 metres to travel.

Defenders were all around and at times it looked like Lightfoot was running through treacle but the tackles were flappers and the young back-rower completed the journey. Clegg converted for a 13-3 lead.

But the Aspatria defence was under intense pressure in the closing minutes and when the ball was secured on the left flank and recycled across field it looked a certain score as the home full-back provided an extra man and took the ball.

The home cheers had almost started but a remarkable last ditch tackle from Aspatria full-back Andrew Miller saved the day, getting under the Southport player to prevent the try.

Aspatria started the half well enough but a penalty awarded against them around half way was quickly turned into three points.

Soon afterwards it seemed as if Aspatria’s lead would be further eroded but this time the long-range penalty rattled the upright and stayed out.

Hopes of a positive result were diminished on 57 minutes when Jack Gaskell was yellow-carded for a technical offence and a resulting penalty narrowed the lead down to 13-9.

The disruption in the Aspatria scrum resulted in another penalty attempt for Southport which sailed over and with 18 minutes left Aspatria’s advantage was only a single point.

It was a parlous position with the last period of the game being played in the full knowledge that any penalty within 60 metres was kickable.

That moment came with nine minutes to play.

The penalty was awarded on the half-way line but close to the touchline.

It was an ambitious kick, too ambitious as it proved and well wide of the mark.