Frustrated was the word of the weekend for Slinfold captain Guy Thorne as the leaders slipped - but he believes Division 4 is wide open.
The table toppers dropped to third as they suffered a shock six-run defeat at home to lowly Stirlands.
Seaford took over at the top as Rottingdean also leapt up to second with just four points separating the three teams, and 12 points from first place down to Southwater in fifth.
Stirlands had posted 182-8 declared in 46 overs after they had lost the toss and were put in.
But hosts Slinfold could only reply with 176 all out in 39 overs.
Thorne said: “I’m a frustrated captain – frustrated I missed the game, and frustrated we couldn’t get over the line – as we’d have opened a gap at the top.
“It was a lost opportunity. We were disappointed to not be able to seal a win against Stirlands, it was a game we were always in control of, and we should have got over the line.
“Unfortunately our catching wasn’t too clever on the day, and we spilled a few somewhat straightforward catches which meant we ended up having to chase a total in excess of what we should have been chasing for the second week running.
“But look, we win as a team and we lose as a team, lads have put their hands up, acknowledged what we need to improve on, and we’ll be looking to bounce back next week.
“The league has been blown wide open, 31 points separate the top nine sides, so it’s up to us to try and take charge of a few games now, and get back to winning ways.”
Stirlands’ innings was pinned together by a top-score of 47 from Ajinkya Deshpande, who came in at number five after the score was cut to 56-4.
That came after some good bowling from Akeem Jordan (3-28) and Daniel Graycon (2-39), while Imran Khan (2-68) also got in on the act before the wickets dried up.
Rory Stewart-Richardson and Michael Clowes added 21 each, the latter not out, while Alex Brazier also posted 20.
In reply, Deshpande had a good day with the ball in the Stirlands attack, taking 6-73 including some of the key wickets.
Opener Ross Dealhoy made 40 despite losing those either side of him for ducks, Ethan Ansell (38) assisted him in a rebuild, before Ansell and Jordan (43) put on 72 for the fourth wicket.
Graycon (17) and Shah (29) helped them to 159-5, but the last five wickets fell for just 17 runs to throw away a winning position.
Thorne added: “We still fancied ourselves to chase 182 down, but our mistakes cost us again, and 150 would have been a more realistic target.
“Ross batted well at the top with a brisk 40, and Ethan 38 and Akeem 43 got themselves in and put us in control.
“We needed one of them to go on and bat through and we lost them at a crucial time which was real shame, but we still had a side capable of chasing down that target.
“We were 159-6 so only needed another 23 runs, so to lose those wickets and fall six runs short was gutting.”
Slinfold visit West Chiltington & Thakeham on Saturday.
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