BENDIGO City was left to lament a costly final 10 minutes in its away clash against Men's State League 5 West rival Deakin University on Saturday.
City squandered a 1-0 lead with 10 minutes to play, eventually succumbing 2-1 to the Ducks.
It was City's first loss for the MSL season and dropped the league's newcomers to fourth place on the ladder, four points below top side Barwon (6-1), which rebounded from a 7-0 loss to Bendigo the week before, to defeat Lara United 5-1.
Melton Phoenix (5-1-1) holds second spot on 16 points following its nil-all draw against West Point, two ahead of Balmoral and Bendigo City, both 4-2-1).
City took an early lead after the returning Luke Burns slotted his sixth goal of the season in the 13th minute.
The visitors were able to hold their advantage until the 80th minute, when Marcus Lindeberg produced the equaliser for Deakin University.
Playing with renewed confidence, the Ducks continued their pressure late in the contest and were able to force an error, with an own goal in the 85th minute breaking a short deadlock.
It was enough to give Deakin University its fourth win of the season and lift the Ducks within two points of Balmoral and Bendigo City in a tightening title race.
The match was Bendigo City's third in six weeks played in the Geelong region for one win, one loss and a draw.
City drew 1-1 with Lara United in the second week of the season and defeated Surfside Waves 5-1 at Ocean Grove in week four.
Bendigo City will look to rebound at home this Saturday night against Wyndham FC.
Meanwhile, a tough day for the club at Waurn Ponds extended to the reserves clash, with Bendigo City suffering a 4-2 defeat against the Ducks.
The team's first loss this season was enough for Bendigo City (5-1-1) to be overtaken at the top of the league ladder by Balmoral (6-1).
Reid Murray and Bowdie Chandler were the goal scorers for City, with Murray slotting his sixth goal of the season.
In Junior National Premier League weekend matches, the highlight for Bendigo City was a 4-3 win over Heidelberg in the under-14 boys.
Ethan Pope scored two goals, while Solomon Bu and Mitchell Burton each contributed one.
In other games, Bendigo City lost 2-1 to Geelong in the under-15 boys; lost 4-0 to Geelong in the under-18 boys; and lost 3-0 to Brimbank Stallions in the under-16 boys.
Rory Burke was the goal scorer in the under-15s.
Sunday's games were the first of the regular season following the pre-qualification series.
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