Read captain Kyle O’Connor was left rueing missed opportunities at weekend following defeat to Salesbury at Ribchester Road.
With leaders Clitheroe slipping up against Settle it was a superb chance to tighten the ravine at the summit.
But it wasn’t to be and their wait for the Ribblesdale Cricket League championship trophy is likely to be prolonged.
Read, who won the title for three years running from the 2002 campaign, are now 38 points from the top with 11 games remaining.
“We didn’t get enough runs on the board,” said O’Connor. “It’s a huge shame because with Clitheroe getting beat it gave us the chance to claw back some ground. We’ve just got to focus on finishing in the top four now because our form has been appalling.”
O’Connor added: “I think we’ve been a bit complacent and a little bit over-confident in recent games. We’re going through a phase where we are expecting to win rather than working hard to earn it.
“We’re not a team of world beaters. We need to work collectively to win games and compete as an 11 and be the team we know we can be.”
It started well as Joey Marshall and paid man Mohammad Jamal fired half centuries for the visitors who climbed to a total of 212-5.
However, Salesbury professional Susantha Pradeep had other ideas and smashed a superb unbeaten 110 to secure a two-wicket triumph.
“Their pro put in a quality performance with the bat. He set his stall out and knew exactly what he was doing.
“He ended up winning the match by himself. It was a brilliant knock and good to watch though I didn’t enjoy seeing our lead slip.”
Read remain nestled comfortably in the Lancashire Cup slots with a 17 point advantage over fifth place Settle.
However, Barnoldswick’s 55-run win against Brooksbottom in Summerseat put Luke Hodgson’s side in the driving seat for the runner-up spot as they opened up a 13 point gap.
Read face Cherry Tree at Preston Old Road on Saturday as they look to get back on track.
“You can see the disappointment on everyone’s faces. People are starting to look down. We’re just determined to get things back to normal because we want to get back to winning ways. We know we’re capable of doing that.”