FOLLOWING its round eight draw with reigning East Gippsland football premier Lindenow, Stratford had to also share the points with Lucknow in round nine.
Lucknow took a five-point lead into the first change and extended that lead to eight points at the main break.
Faced with a 10-point deficit at three-quarter-time, the Swans finished strongly, restricting the Magpies to just four behinds but could only manage two goals itself and had to settle with two points, scoring 12.9 (81) to the home side’s 11.15 (81).
Josh Kiss booted five goals for Stratford, while the Swans were also well-served by Lewis Bolton, Kaine Kerten, Jarryd Clohesy, Gavin Bickery and James Russell.
Shaun Ryan booted four majors for Lucknow.
Stratford is now 10 points behind the fourth-placed Magpies at the half-way point of the season.
ONLY percentage splits Paynesville and Wy Yung on top of the ladder after the Tigers came away with a thrilling two-point win in the top of the table clash.
Wy Yung got the early break on the Seagulls, taking a six-point lead into the long break.
Paynesville hit back in the third term to take the lead and set up a thrilling finish but it was the Tigers that came out on top, holding on for a two-point victory, 11.16 (82) to 12.8 (80).
A FIVE-goal to nil final term from Lindenow saw the final margin extend to 56 points in the match against Lakes Entrance.
The Seagulls were competitive in the first and third terms, but the Cats did the damage in the second and final quarters where they booted nine goals to one to set up the comfortable win, 17.16 (118) to 9.8 (62).
ORBOST-Snowy Rovers had the bye.