MALVERN Town’s magical homecoming played out like Hollywood script in an epic 5-4 extra-time victory over Loughborough University.

The Hillsiders led 3-1, trailed 4-3 and still won through in extra-time, surviving a brief floodlight failure and two strong penalty shouts to reach the last 64 of the FA Vase against higher-ranked opponents.

READ MORE | Chairman hopes epic opener will inspire locals to back Malvern ascent 

It marked the opening of the club’s revamped ground and 3G pitch in the ultimate style on a night when torrential rain would have caused the match to abandoned on most grass pitches.

The irrepressible Matt Turner made it 23 goals for the season and 11 in his past three matches with a hat-trick with Dave Reynolds and James Febery also on the score sheet.

Stylish Loughborough may well wonder how they lost, threatening to be the party poopers with some slick football rarely seen at this level but Malvern simply refused to cower and ruthlessly punished schoolboy errors at the back.

The tone was set when Turner notched after 64 seconds.

He had initially ran into traffic on the left but the interception ricocheted off a second body, enabling him to continue his run and dink inside the far post from an acute angle near the corner of the six-yard box.

The students recovered well with Connor Smith’s snapshot from a hooked ball into the middle fizzing wide from 20 yards.

Another direct run saw Turner jet in behind one-on-one with James Stallan, rounding the keeper who got injured in the process of forcing his rival wide enough for Keegan Townrow to clear off the line.

Febery lifted over the bar having pressed on the edge of the box and the hosts were made to pay for not building on the lead, Will Dawes unleashing an instinctive effort that left keeper Charlie Weaver standing.

The match remained delicately poised with Loughborough looking very accomplished with the ball but prone to error without it and Reynolds pounced when Eric Duah passed across the face of his own 18-yard box beating Townrow to it to thump home from eight yards.

More slick Loughborough play saw George Wilson pick out Smith with a cutback and Weaver had to push his swerving 20-yard shot against the post. Merlin Ferrinho skewed wide the rebound.

Merciless Malvern accepted another gift within 60 seconds of that close shave when high, hanging cross from the left was misjudged, leaving Turner free to tuck in from inside the six-yard box.

However, the deficit was halved six minutes into the second half when Dawes cut in with his shot cannoning high into the air, deceiving Weaver and looping towards goal. Townrow made sure it went in.

Less than 60 seconds later and Dan Collins raced into the left of the box with Weaver catching him late in an attempt to grasp it near his feet. Smith confidently stroked the penalty low to Weaver’s left.

Fluent Loughborough then unsurprisingly moved in front before the hour mark through a classy move.

Smith, who had just come back on following a robust challenge that led to Febery being booked, guided into Ferrinho to slide low into the run of Dawes who steered inside the far post from 10 yards.

Malvern tired as the passes popped around but refused to wave the white flag and Turner was a fraction away from meeting Clark’s blasted cross with a diving header moments after going behind.

Chances began to dry up as the rain lashed down until Louis Loader narrowly cleared the crossbar after smart build-up play between substitutes Ethan Moran and Kyonn Evans.

Townrow should have doubled Loughborough’s lead but placed into Weaver’s gloves his free header from an inviting corner 14 minutes from the end.

The pendulum swung once more when Febery’s low drive skipped into the net to Hilton’s left despite the custodian seemingly having it covered.

Loughborough went close to moving back ahead a minute later when Collins cut back for Ben Le Rougetel to bend a high shot that Weaver needed two swats of the glove to keep out.

Loader’s dipping free-kick nearly nestled inside the near post only for Hilton to push wide and Collins then went within a whisker at the other end, his looping header from Olly Davis’s lifted centre dropping agonisingly over the angle.

Loughborough finished the 90 with a three-on-three attack, Davies feeding Collins to his left but having cut in he was denied by Weaver’s outstretched foot.

Alex Dinsmore seemed to have a credible penalty shout ignored after Phil Harris got a bit too close in the corner of the box, tangling with the striker three minutes into added time.

Malvern regained the lead in the 99th minute through more uncertainty from the students.

Paul Braithwaite's moment of hesitancy allowed Moran to dash towards the centre right of the box and nudge out to Harry Clark who drilled in for Turner to slam in his third from point-blank range.

As if there had not been enough drama, the lights briefly went out but play was soon back underway and Moran might have restored the two-goal cushion, darting forward and driving narrowly past the far post from the left edge of the box.

Torrential rain worsened with the ball slowing down even on the plush 3G surface but Loughborough kept playing and were denied a penalty in the 110th minute when Loader nudged Le Rougetel after getting caught wrong side.

Smith’s deflected free-kick looped marginally over with Weaver beaten and the standout player almost had the last laugh, a double chance that saw a block with the ricochet going wide as referee Jake Allsop brought to an end this pulsating contest.

Malvern: Weaver, Hayes, Wickett, Harris, J Febery (Emblem, 96), Loader, Fusco (Moran, 68), Craven (Evans, 74), Turner, Reynolds (A Sauntson, 109), Clark.

Unused subs: B Febery, Griffiths, Saunders.

Loughborough: Stallan (Hilton, 13), Ferrinho (Ogunmekan, 104), Davies, Le Rougetel, Townrow, Duah, Smith, Braithwaite, Collins, Dawes (J Turner, 80), Wilson (Dinsmore, 68).

Unused subs: Fadahunsi, Jarrett.

Referee: Jake Allsop. 

Attendance: 387.