Sleaford CC First XI lost top spot after falling to their first defeat of the season at title rivals Woodhall Spa on Saturday.
After struggles with the bat, Sleaford’s bowlers almost rescued a win before fourth-placed Spa edged home by two wickets.
The defeat, allied to recent abandoned matches has allowed their rivals to close and defending champions Bracebridge Heath to go top, level on points with Sleaford.
The Baker Plant Hire-sponsored First XI won the toss and batted first, with Dakota Rodgers and Aayush Patel settling well to their task with an opening stand of 47 before Patel was bowled by Joe Irving (4 for 35) for 17.
Just two runs later Rodgers followed for 24 before Chamara Kapugedera and captain Andy Hibberd moved the Sleaford total forward until the Sri Lankan fell LBW to Irving for 13 (70-3)
Olly Bean was next to fall for eight, to Ross Dixon (5 for 40), and Tom Fairclough (7) was soon caught and bowled by Dixon with Sleaford on 116-5.
Hibberd continued to accumulate, but Burford went without scoring before the skipper was caught by Hughes, off James White, for a well-made 48.
Matt Wing attacked with confidence, but again his partners fell, Drew Harbron for four and Angus Youles for 10 before Wing (23) was last man out with the score on 173.
Jack Timby was caught behind by Wing for seven, off Scott Tite who then had Vithana LBW without scoring.
The impressive Tite (4 for 39) then had Wilson caught behind for 0 and dismissed Irving for six before Sergeant was run out for one, leaving the hosts teetering on 36-5.
Jack Hughes joined the dependable Ollie Casswell and they took the total to 62 when Hughes fell to Fairclough for 11.
Ross Dixon joined opener Casswell and together they began to compile a match-changing stand, with Dixon the aggressor as Casswell continued to compile.
The partnership took Woodhall to 152 before Dixon went to Rodgers for an excellent 62.
Muller made 10, before going to Youles, but Casswell’s match-winning 65 not out saw Woodhall home by two wickets in the 45th over.
On Saturday, Sleaford will look to bounce back at home to bottom side Alford at London Road (noon start).
* Sleaford CC Second XI headed to Spalding in the South Lincs and Border League Premier Division.
Spalding batted first and made 181-5 in their 45 overs, with opener John Munton making an excellent 74, and Paul Roberts taking 2 for 40 for Sleaford (3pts).
In reply Sleaford could not establish any control or develop any real partnerships.
Conor Harbron made 13, Gianlucca Bucci 17, Paul Roberts 11 and Simon Godby 10 not out as Sleaford were bowled out for 101 in the 30th over.
On Saturday, Sleaford travel to Skegness.
* Sleaford CC’s Saturday Third XI hosted Spalding at Ancaster, and batting first made 205-6 from their 45 overs thanks to Ian Glendinning with an excellent 83 and Tom Brooke’s unbeaten 66.
In reply Spalding were bowled out for 131 in the 44th over, with Abigail Hannon claiming her first senior wicket as Sleaford (20pts) won by 74 runs.
This weekend the Third Xi make the short trip to Billingborough.
* Sleaford Sunday Second XI, sponsored by Turnbulls, travelled to Woodhall Spa, and batting first scored a most respectable 222-9 in their 40 overs.
Woodhall batted very well to reach their target with two wickets down.
This weekend they head to Nocton.