Three points would have been better than one, but the Magpies fate is still largely in their own hands after a 2-all draw with Valentine on Saturday.
Valentine played with 10 men for almost the entire second half but came back from 2-1 down thanks to a 20-metre strike from US import Jalon Brown in the 72nd minute.
It was a win the Magpies should have pocketed, but Magpies coach Phil Dando said Maitland again struggled to put a game away.
“We were nearly there, 2-1 up with them down to 10 men and I knew we needed another one,” Dando said.
“I was just saying ‘what can we do to sure things up’ and lo and behold the words had just come out of my mouth that we conceded.
“Valentine are in the top four for a reason. They are well organised, they’re quick and they put you under a lot of pressure.
“They have a game plan and they execute it well and they’ve got a game breaker up front in Jalon Brown.
“He was always going to be dangerous even when they went down to 10 men.
“We just couldn’t hold out unfortunately.”
Sixth-placed Maitland led in the 13th minute after Matt Thompson converted from the spot following a penalty against Alec Faulkner for clipping a runaway Ryan Clarke from behind.
Valentine equalised in the 38th minute when Reece Pettit showed strength to win a header off a failed clearance from a corner.
Josh Carroll was sent off for a second yellow card in the 46th minute after a foul tackle and Maitland capitalised in the 58th when Josh Dutton-Black scored off a Clarke cross.
Brown, though, had the final say to go top of the league scoring with his 12th goal of the season.
The Magpies have four regular season games to play and sit sixth six points behind fourth-placed Hamilton Olympic and five behind Broadmeadow Magic.
Their run home starts with Lake Macquarie (away), followed by Broadmeadow Magic (home), Lambton Jaffas (away) and finishing with Adamstown Rosebud at home.
“It’s still tight between us Broadmeadow Magic, who we have to play, and Olympic,” Dando said.
“The extra two points from yesterday would have been better for us, but we’ve still got four games to go and 12 points to play for and we need to get as many of those as we can and see what happens with the other teams.”
“It’s in our own hands at the moment. No one has really dominated us, we’ve been a match for everyone in the comp, but at times we just haven’t been able to deliver that killer punch.
“The last few games we’ve been conceding a few too many goals so we need to stem that. We’ve got to keep them out as well.”