BALLARAT Red Devils have succumbed to a fifth consecutive National Premier Leagues Victoria loss.
A second-half collapse saw the McDonalds Reds outclassed 3-2 by Bentleigh Greens in round 14 action at Morshead Park on Saturday.
An outstanding opening period from the home side set up a 2-0 advantage before Bentleigh hauled itself to a memorable win with goals at the 46, 79 and 89-minute marks.
Ballarat's first-half was nearly impeccable.
Keeper Jordan Franken pulled off a miraculous one-on-one save in the initial moments before boom recruit Deng Aguek goaled at the 15 and 34-minute marks.
Sean and Liam Harding gave the Bentleigh forwards no room for creativity while Daniel O'Donnell was clearly the best player on the pitch.
The Red Devils passing skills were a class above their higher ranked opponents.
The visitors began to work their way into the match after a slow start and came out after the break breathing fire.
Bentleigh's Christian Caruato goaled just one-minute after play resumed and the Greens controlled the match from that moment on.
It took more than 30 minutes of relentless pressure for Ballarat's defensive structure to break down, but when it did the visitors scored with relative ease.
Wayne Wallace helped his side draw level in the latter stages of the match and a draw looked to be on the cards before some magic from Brent McGrath in the final minute sealed the win.
Red Devils' midfielder Simon Murphy was as industrious as ever, but couldn't find the back of the net due to circumstance and poor luck.
Murphy would have put the match away with less than 15 minutes left, had his volley from a brilliant counter-attack found the back of the net instead of skimming over the cross bar.
McGrath made no such mistake when he put the sealer past Franken after being on the end of a similar pass with just seconds remaining.
Red Devils player manager James Robinson lamented his sides inability to react to Bentleigh's tactics, but drew plenty of positives from the performance.
"You take it (the loss) for what it is, to be honest," Robinson said.
"You've got to react to it and make sure, from a 2-0 lead at home, that you don't give it away (because) you shouldn't be giving it away.
"It's another learning curve for us on how to react to things - we knew what we wanted to do in the first-half and that worked to a tee.
"The first-half was fantastic, unbelievable (even)."
BALLARAT'S BEST: Daniel O'Donnell, Deng Aguek, Simon Murphy, Sean Harding, Jordan Franken