The fate of this season’s Canada Life Premier League championship took a twist at Ballafletcher on Saturday as holders Corinthians stunned Rushen United 4-1.

The result must now place Ayre United in pole position to clinch the crown but their visit to Croit Lowey later in the season could still hold real significance.

The eagerly-anticipated showdown on Saturday was certainly affected by the adverse weather conditions but was nevertheless a fully absorbing contest.

With the aid of a stiff breeze, it was the champions - aiming to bounce back from the previous week’s defeat to Ramsey - that made the brighter start and it required impressive performances from defenders Christos Loizides and Ashley Blake to prevent any clear-cut opportunities for the hosts.

Ironically it was the southerners, on the break, that engineered the first real chance but Jamie Cadwallader’s effort drifted wide.

With Furo Davies beginning to make an impact for the visitors, the chances for the Port Erin boys began to grow and it required a goal-line clearance by the home side to keep the scores level.

Then midway through the half referee’s assistant Peter Beighton spotted a handball in the hosts’ box, but Stephen Riding’s well-struck spot-kick drew a superb save from custodian Adam Killey.

Buoyed by the let-off the home side responded well and Ronan McDonnell sent a fine strike agonisingly wide.

The visitors were dealt a telling blow when keeper Matty Cregeen was forced to leave the field, to be replaced by striker Aaron Hawley. But then only minutes from the interval it was the southerners who broke the deadlock when substitute Jordan Watterson stabbed home the opener.

Back came Corinthians and, following a corner, referee Andy Lodge awarded a penalty for a foul in the Rushen box which allowed Josh Ridings to level the scores from the spot.

The home side was swiftly out of the blocks for the second half and took the lead in the opening minute when Matty Kent-Lloyd fired the ball home.

Then 12 minutes later the score became 3-1 when the same player took full advantage of a hesitant Rushen defence to beat keeper Hawley once again.

But the yellows were in no mood to capitulate and Riding produced a fine strike from distance that fizzed past an upright. The visitors went even closer to pulling one back when a Ryan Crawley effort rebounded off the underside of the Whites’ crossbar.

As the clock ticked down, further strikes from Crawley and Cadwallader also missed the target, but the hosts looked dangerous on the break and Josh Ridings produced a tantalizing run only to shoot wide of the Rushen goal.

With only five minutes remaining, the goal the game arrived as Cameron Lee found Sam Gelling down the right and his well-placed cross was steered home by Joey Middleton.

The home side had a number of candidates for the man of the match but for his work rate and commitment that honour surely went to Darren Cain.