The Maitland Magpies have missed the chance to close the gap on second-placed Adamstown Rosebud after being held to a 1-1 draw away at Toronto-Awaba on Sunday.
In horrendous conditions at Lyall Peacock Field, Maitland left back Daniel McGovern opened the scoring before a slip at the back handed the Stags an equaliser just before half-time.
Both teams had chances after the break but were unable to split the deadlock.
Maitland captain Matt Stonham said he was happy with the result despite giving up an early lead.
“Honestly, I’m happy with the point, we had chances but they probably had the better of them. We defended for some long periods and our scrambling defence was quite good,” Stonham said.
“It was the same for both sides though, we did well to restrict them to shooting from distance in the second half but I think both sides just ran out of legs on the heavy pitch.”
“The two grades before firsts chopped it up a bit, the rain belted down during under 23s so by the time we got out there it was just a slop.”
Toronto had started brightly, forcing a quality one-on-one save from Stonham before a tactical change saw McGovern get forward and open the scoring with a neat
The big positive to come out of the game for Maitland was the return of dynamic midfielder David Mudd who has been absent for most of the last two years with knee and shoulder injuries.
Mudd came off the bench at half-time and provided the Magpies with much needed direction.
“Muddy came on at half-time and looked good, it was great to have him back out there after being without him for almost two years,” Stonham said.
“He looked strong, just his presence and his vocal leadership helped the team lift.
“To have him back just before the finals is a huge boost.”
Maitland will get another crack at the Stags on Wednesday night when their catch-up game from round 14 will be played at Cooks Square Park with Toronto desperate to catch fourth-placed Cessnock City.
Elsewhere in the first division on Sunday, Thornton’s disappointing season continued after they were beaten 3-0 at Howe Park by Singleton.