SUBSTITUTE Gareth Morton failed to hold onto a difficult pass in the dying seconds to snatch a result for Widnes at Whitehaven.

Lee Paterson's break and overhead ball gave Morton the chance to score his second try of the afternoon but he was just unable to drag it in to leave the home side with a 20-16 victory.

A draw or a win for the Vikings would have seen them claim fifth place in the final Co-Operative National League One table.

As it is, Steve McCormack's men have to settle for sixth and a visit to third-placed Halifax in the first round of the play-offs.

What the game lacked in quality, it more than made up for in excitement and incident.

Super League referee Steve Ganson was given the chance to tune up for his Wembley appearance this week and his contribution had a huge impact on the game.

He dismissed a player from each side for high tackles and sin-binned two more Vikings for good measure to add to the drama.

Widnes created the first scoring opportunity of the match but Matty Smith was held just short and it was Haven that got the board ticking.

Centre Rob Jackson plunged over after Tane Manihera's chip-kick caused chaos in the Vikings defence.

Two Manihera goals made it 8-0 to the Cumbrian outfit.

Paterson had a try disallowed for a forward pass before Widnes hit back on 27 minutes.

Steve Tyrer streaked away up the left and although he lost the ball in collision, Gavin Dodd was on hand to scoop it up to score.

Tyrer added the extras and things looked even rosier for the Vikings when Haven substitute Scott Teare got his marching orders immediately after the restart for a high shot on Michael Ostick.

A fine break by Bob Beswick came to nothing when the final pass failed to hit the target and the 12-man Haven outfit increased their lead just before the break.

A crossfield bomb fell into the Widnes in-goal area and Scott McAvoy was on hand to touch down to make it 12-6.

A further Manihera penalty increased the lead early in the second perios but a sweeping move from Widnes allowed Dean Gaskell to crash in wide out.

Mr Ganson then went on a frantic penalty-giving spree which saw Haven add three further goals and both Ricard Fletcher and Martin McLoughlin earn themselves spells in the sin-bin.

Indeed, McLoughlin was still cooling his heels when Ostick went for an early bath for another high shot leaving Widnes down to eleven men for a period.

With time running out, Gaskell put Morton over with Tyrer converting superbly to set up a grandstand finish at 20-16.

The Vikings threw the ball about but ultimately fell short when Petrson and Morton couldn't quite connect.

Widnes: Hardman; Gaskell (1t), Tyrer (2g), Dean, Dodd (1t); Duffy, Matty Smith; Morrison, Mark Smith, Gannon, Paterson, Fletcher, Beswick. Subs: Hartley, McLoughlin, Morton (1t), Ostick (sent-off, 62 mins).