Kyle O’Connor’s side picked up maximum points at the weekend, and are two points adrift of Clitheroe after 10 games, as Read look to end three years as the bridesmaid, finishing runners-up in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
But Padiham find themselves next bottom after a pair of defeats - including a 113-run reversal at Whalley Road on Sunday - and are now just three points ahead of league newcomers Euxton with only one win to their name so far this season.
On Saturday, skipper O’Connor led by example as Read saw off last season’s wooden spoonists Earby by 35 runs at the Applegarth.
O’Connor hit 65 as Read totalled 213-6, and despite Chris Walton matching that in reply, Earby were dismissed for 178, as Read picked up all 12 points.
Padiham, meanwhile, lost out by four wickets at home to Great Harwood, despite the heroics of professional Chris Holt.
Holt produced a fine all-round performance, scoring 88 and claiming 5-86, but it all proved in vain.
Padiham made 198-9 , with the help of Holt’s impressive 88.
But in reply, despite Holt claiming five of the six wickets to fall, Harwood passed the target, with an unbeaten 76 from veteran Paul Houldsworth backing up 87 from Tiaan Cloete.
Holt was also unlucky to be on the losing side on Sunday in the derby against his former club Read.
The Padiham paid man took 8-117 as Read made 273-9, and he then top-scored with a 65-ball 68 in reply, but Andrew Rushton claimed 6-53 as the Arbories men fell short by 113 runs.
Read put on 70 for the first wicket between O’Connor and Joe Marshall, before Holt had the latter caught and bowled for 18, and O’Connor (77) also shared 84 with the similarly destructive Mohammed Jamal , who made 72 off 55 balls, with five fours and six sixes.
Conor Lowes also added 70 off 31 balls, with seven fours and six maximum hits, as the innings closed on 273-9.
Holt was the mainstay of the Padiham reply, but when he was fifth man out at 135, only 25 more runs were added.