Three successful and creditable promotions looked to have been a step too far for the Waterside club when batting collapses led to them being skittled for 89 by both Hook & Newnham Basics and Longparish either side of a mid-May defeat at Lymington.
But Hythe bounced back with a timely six-wicket win over United Services who, in turn, suffered a fourth successive defeat.
US wore the leader’s yellow jersey for much of last season, but have struggled this time around and, after losing half their wickets for 101, managed to scrap up 184-4 against Hythe at Burnaby Road, where Kiwi Marin Mason took 3-32.
Matt Young (38) gave Hythe a positive start, while Dave Guymer’s 58 guided the visitors to their first win.
Ropley and table topping Portsmouth & Southsea were the only unbeaten clubs at the end of the first month of action.
Ropley cruised to a 45-run win over Rowledge on the back of Ed Stennett (55) and Jack Ireland (41). Their 182 proved too many for a desperately young Rowledge, who replied with 137.
Portsmouth & Southsea trimmed Hook & Newnham Basics (179) by seven wickets, with Matt Benfield hitting a key 55 after a run-a-ball 47 by Jack Davies.
But it’s not all good news for P & S because Benfield (side muscle injury) cannot bowl for six weeks and Jack Peach has an injured hamstring.
Longparish saw their three-match winning start ended at Lymington, who are scoring runs galore at the Sports Ground.
So far this season, Terry Crabb has smashed a double century, Aussie Billy Quigley a century and now Chris Blake has his name on the honours board.
Blake notched 107 and shared a hefty opening partnership with Quigley (72) as Lymington piled up 263-2.
Young Will Samways (50) and Michael Taplin (42) responded for Longparish, who were undone by Southampton University spinner Russ Pilkington, with 6-23. They were 154 all out.
Bishops Waltham amassed the biggest total of the day – 299-5 against Sarisbury Athletic II, who threw down 49 wides among the 62 extras they conceded. Umpire Mike Foster was a little stiff the next morning having signalled so many extras !
A half-century by Andy Wakley (55) gave BW a sound start, which Harry Barrett (46) and Sam Medhurst (49) enhanced with a pre-tea 85-run unbroken stand.
Batting sixth-wicket down, Steve Fryer hit a valiant 83 not out but was unable to save St Cross Symondians III from a dramatic penultimate over defeat in a see-saw affair against Fareham & Crofton at the Green Jackets.
He came to the crease with St Cross reeling at 54-6 against impressive Ben White (3-25) and Angus Southon (3-36).
But with support from the tail, Fryer hit a six and 11 fours to raise the St Cross total to 194 – a target which looked beyond Fareham when the visitors themselves collapsed to 15-3 and later 71-5.
But Fareham too recovered through Ben Kissane (40), Morgan Frost (30) and Dan Reader (30).
Darren Harvey (4-27) and Alex Ingram (3-32) continued to chip away and when Kissane became wicketkeeper Jack Middleton’s third victim Fareham were still someway short of the target.
Several lusty blows from Angus Southon (30 not out) put Fareham right back in the picture, but after White had been trapped leg before it was left to the evergreen Tim Dix to clip a match winning four off his legs with ten balls remaining.
One-time Totton & Eling big hitter Shu Chowdhury was undisputed man-of-the-match for Burridge II, who thrashed Ventnor II by nine wickets.
He took 4-31 as Ventnor were dismissed for 107 and then hit a typically breezy 66 as Burridge polished off a moderate target.
New Milton II scored a creditable two-wicket win over Shrewton (167) while Ryde won by 59 runs at OTs & Romsey, who dropped from 59-3 to 132 all out, with Ben Wadmore (4-26) mopping up the tail.
Earlier a half-century by Ben Gregory (54) hauled Ryde out of potential trouble at 89-6.