BIRCHFIELD'S North Lancs Two progress was checked in their final game of the year.
They were beaten in heavy going despite outscoring their hosts by two tries to one.
The feeling in the camp after the game was Birchfield had done enough for victory.
They could have done so had Ben Royle succeeded with a penalty goal attempt, but it went just wide in conditions which were far from ideal for kicking.
Royle also missed the conversions to the first-half tries which sent the visitors in 10-3 at the interval.
Gary Fallon touched down both times but Littleborough, who climbed above Birchfield and into fifth spot with this win, responded with a penalty goal.
The visitors were holding on quite comfortably but a second penalty put Littleborough within touching distance.
With Birchfield having looked the likelier to score, the home side plundered an unconverted try inside the last 10 minutes and, despite their best efforts, the away side couldn't strike back.
Birchfield are next in action on January 6 - at home to table-topping Kirkby Lonsdale.
* Helsby got a first legitimate taste of victory to see their bottom-of-the-table plight ease ever so slightly. They defeated Merseyside Police 37-17 at Chester Road to reopen their account in South Lancs- Cheshire Four.
Their only earlier victory was chalked off for a rule infringement.
Helsby are still, however, four points adrift of second-from-bottom Port Sunlight, who have likewise suffered a two-point deduction.
* Open-dated Moore were saved from being deposited in the South Lancs Cheshire Three basement by results elsewhere.
Holmes Chapel, the team propping up Moore, lost at Marple while the two sides immediately above them were also beaten.