Church haven’t given up hope of snatching the Holland Cup despite their unbeaten run coming to an end last weekend.
Craig Fergusson’s men hosted Lowerhouse with both sides two points off second place, but last year’s champions are now in pole position for the runners-up spot.
Not only did Lowerhouse inflict Church’s first defeat in 17 matches but Ramsbottom slipped from second to fifth after losing to this year’s champions Accrington.
Lowerhouse professional Francois Haasbroek hit 57 as the visitors were bowled out for 194, Lloyd Aspin (3-39) and Andrew Bentley (3-58) taking three wickets apiece.
Opener Levi Wolfenden top-scored with 39 in reply while Fergusson hit 34, but they were unable to stop Church slipping to 151 all out in 42.2 overs.
“It was disappointing to lose and our 16-match unbeaten run came to an end because of it,” said captain Fergusson.
“But I said after the game that it’s a great effort to do what we did. In amateur cricket – in any sport, in fact – you’re going to lose at some point so we weren’t too downbeat.”
Church trail Lowerhouse by nine points heading into their final game away to Ramsbottom, who are a point further back.
“We still have an outside chance of finishing second and we want to finish the season on a positive note,” Fergusson added.
“If we win Sunday’s game we’ll finish above Ramsbottom and if other results go our way then you never know.
“Any result is possible in amateur sport so we have to make sure we win our game then hope the rest takes care of itself.”
Jack Gaskell will replace Phillip Gilrane while Church will also be without professional Kasun Bodhisha, who was carrying a knee injury as he scored just four runs last week.
The Sri Lankan will return home on Saturday so Kashif Bhatti, from Moddershall of the North Staffs & South Cheshire League, will sub-pro at Ramsbottom on Sunday.
Accrington signed off with a win in their final home game against Ramsbottom last Sunday, closing on 228/8 with opener Simon Hanson hitting 90 and pro Ashar Zaidi making 42.
Rammy began their reply with a 46 from opener Tom Parton and 56 from pro Pieter Malan, but Hanson followed up his half-century by taking 4-15 as the visitors were reduced to 165 all out in 44 overs.
Graham Lloyd’s men complete their championship-winning campaign away to bottom club Colne.
Enfield hosted East Lancs last week and after opener Mohammed Bhada scored 43, East Lancs pro Ockert Erasmus hit a 35-ball 50 as the visitors made 241/6.
The wickets were spread around for Enfield and so were the runs, with Hassan Fazal’s unbeaten 28 being the hosts’ top score as they were restricted to 163/9.
Enfield are eighth ahead of Sunday’s trip to Rawtenstall but could finish as low as 11th.
Rishton’s miserable end to the season continued as they were bowled out for 62 at Haslingden, with not a single batsman reaching double figures.
The hosts reached their target inside 20 overs, leaving third-bottom Rishton to hope for a better finish at second-bottom Bacup.