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Thursday 22 November 2012 Updated: 22/11 09:39
Stratford Town 2 Loughborough University 3
LEADERS Town surrendered their Baker Joiner Midland Alliance unbeaten record after falling to a late goal in a thrilling clash at the DCS Stadium on Saturday.
Town had come from behind to lead at the break thanks to strikes from Joe Halsall and Aaron Forde but the students levelled midway through the second half thanks to hot-shot Dan Nti who then bagged the winner five minutes from time.
Despite the setback, Town remain six points clear at the top as both second placed Stourport Swifts and third placed Boldmere St Michaels both lost.
Loughborough dominated the opening exchanges with Charlie Turnbull, Nti and Ebby Nelson-Addy all going close before they went ahead in the fifth minute.
The home defence only half cleared a corner and the ball eventually reached George Nash who unleashed a 30-yard shot which left keeper Brendan Hazlett helpless as it flew into the bottom corner of the net.
Town responded with Forde creating an opening for Josh O'Grady whose effort failed to hit the target.
The home side, looking anything but table-toppers, survived a scare after 15 minutes when a clearance from Melvin Gourlay struck Nelson-Addy and hit the post before rolling behind.
Stratford almost got back on level terms midway through the first half when Forde neatly released striker Tony Robinson who was denied by a smart save from visiting keeper George Lawton.
The students were next to threaten when Nti cleverly combined with Jordan Barker before slotting an effort inches wide of the far post.
Town made the most of their good fortune to get back on level terms after 33 minutes through Halsall who thumped a tremendous 25-yard strike into the top corner.
Stratford then got their noses in front four minutes later when Robinson produced some good work to set up Forde who fired a 20-yard effort beyond the sprawling Lawton into the bottom corner.
Town were in full flow and they almost increased their lead shortly after when Tyron Fagan carved out an opening for Robinson whose effort was superbly saved by Lawton.
The end-to-end action continued in the second half with Town going close just before the hour mark when Mark Faulds ended a fine run down the right by delivering the perfect cross which Fagan headed against the inside of the post and Dan Wilkinson completed the clearance.
Loughborough took full advantage to equalise in the 67th minute with Nti ending another slick move with a well struck effort which beat Hazlett and found the net via the inside of the post.
Both sides continued to press for a winner with Nti being denied by a fine save from Hazlett, while at the other end Robinson neatly controlled a pass from substitute Chris Murphy before firing inches over the bar.
The visitors, who had looked dangerous all afternoon, grabbed an 85th minute winner with the lively Nti ending another slick move by clinically beating the advancing Hazlett.
Town entertain ninth-placed Dunkirk this Saturday (3pm).
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