Pre-season favourites Portsmouth & Southsea saw their lead significantly trimmed when they struggled to overcome OTs & Romsey.
They are looking anxiously over their shoulders as Longparish and Lymington II step up their own title bids.
P & S, who host Burridge II, so nearly came a cropper at Romsey, where they suffered a six-wicket collapse in a bid to chase down OTs’ 116.
Ben Saunders spun OTs out with a 6-17 return, but then seasoned pro Stu Shapland (6-8) weighed in with a six wicket haul of his own as P & S capitulated.
All looked well when Jack Davies and Steve Clements took their reply to 60-0, but then Shapland turned the tables and reduced the Southsea visitors to 100-6.
“Fortunately, Jonno Willey came in with 15 needed and whacked it around a bit,” said a relieved P & S al-rounder Tom Benfield.
A solitary point separated Longparish (at Sarisbury Athletic) and Lymington II (Fareham & Crofton) going into Saturday’s matches.
With their second and third team matches called off, Longparish attracted a rare treble figure crowd for the visit of St Cross Symondians III, who ground out 144-9 after being put in on a damp top.
Steve Berryman hit a patient 50 off 107 balls as Longparish thrived – James Bevan taking 2-13 from his ten overs
With the pitch drying in the sun, batting conditions improved and the Longparish reply rattled along at around a run a ball.
Openers Will de Cani (55), closing in on Ryde’s Ben Wadmore for the County Division 1 batting prize, and Ben Gardner (pictured above) put on 124 before the Cardiff University graduate holed out.
Gardner batted superbly and was unbeaten on 73 as Longparish passed the target in the 25th over.
Longparish, who host relegated Rowledge II in their final match, had their facilities inspected by the HCB’s accreditation gurus this week.
Lymington II, rather unluckily relegated when rain wiped out the final session of the 2016 SPL calendar, dented New Milton’s fading survival prospects with a seven-wicket win.
Kieran Moors and Billy Quigley took four wickets each – and took their respective totals to 22 scalps each for the summer – as NM were whisked out for 103.
Quigley (31) raised his season’s tally to 779 runs before Oli Kelly (31 not out) completed the formalities.
Fareham & Crofton are in nosebleed territory – a ninth win in 11 matches sending the Bath Lane club soaring to fourth place, their highest for a decade.
Highspot of their latest nine-wicket trouncing of sliding Bishops Waltham was a maiden century by 16-year old left-hand opener Viraat Sahu, pictured left above.
The youngster was particularly severe on anything pitched short and smashed 20 boundaries in his 117 not out which swept Fareham past Bishops’ 223-9 (Ben White 3-56) with 12 overs to spare.
His first 40 runs all came in boundaries.
Sahu shared a 163-run opening stand with Ben Kissane (58) before helping Reece Abrams (28) complete the formalities.
Earlier, Dom Quincey (48) and Rob Kops (40) provided BW with a sound start, which Sam Medhurst (32) later improved.
Ropley repaired the damage from their 110-run defeat by thrashing Ventnor II by 73 runs at Steephill.
Ed Stennett’s 85 underpinned Ropley’s 215 – a score Ventnor were never likely to threaten. Martin Blackman made 66 of their 142 all out.
Will Harries is a bowler on fire – his 5-17 return against Ryde taking his Shrewton return to 12 wickets in the past fortnight.
Ryde were skittled for 63 and beaten by 102 runs by the Wiltshire visitors, who posted 167.
Former Lymington & BAT Sports left-hander Damian Shirazi has joined Hythe & Dibden and shared a century partnership with New Zealander Tarin Mason in the 71-run win over Sarisbury Athletic at Jones lane.
Hythe were in a spot of bother at 104-6 before Shirazi (55) and Mason (60) lifted their total to 219-6. Sarisbury replied with 148.
All but relegated Rowledge II (160) pulled off a shock 13 run win at Hook & Newnham Basics II, while United Services inched out of the three-down drop zone with a four-wicket win over Burridge (168-8).
It left New Milton (108 points), Rowledge (102) and Sarisbury Athletic (82) facing the immediate prospect of County Division 2 cricket in 2018.