Lambton Jaffas may have missed the chance to move clear on top of the table after a late equaliser from Maitland, but coach James Pascoe was just pleased to get something against a team he sees as genuine contenders this year.
The Magpies came back twice to level at Cooks Square Park on Sunday to draw their Northern NSW NPL catch-up game 2-2.
Sean Pratt, who came off the bench to equalise in the 2-1 win over Edgeworth three weeks ago, delivered again for Maitland. Off a long ball, Ryan Clarke provided the run in behind and the chipped cross to find Pratt for the equaliser in the 84th minute.
Braedyn Crowley had opened the scoring for Jaffas in the 40th minute with his second attempt after goalkeeper Matt Trott blocked his first shot.
Clarke put Maitland level from close range in first-half injury time after Matt Thompson's back-post header was stopped by goalkeeper Brad Swancott.
Bren Hammel then gave Jaffas back the lead in the 61st minute with a brilliant run and strike from 20 metres.
The result lifted Jaffas to 14 points, ahead of Broadmeadow on goals difference and a point clear of Edgeworth after seven matches each.
Pascoe was disappointed his side could not close out the game at 2-1 but he was "pretty happy regardless" in the result given the standard of the opposition and absence of Michael Kantarovski (calf), Pat Brown (work), Brock Messenger and Nathan Verity (both hamstring).
"In my eyes, they are one of the contenders to win the whole thing," Pascoe said of the Magpies, who are fifth on 11 points from only six games.
"They have a super balance about them, they have terrific experience and if they happen to have a bit of luck with injuries with some of the older boys, that's a really solid team.
"I was pretty happy with us considering we had four out. We had a bench full of teenagers, the boys really gritted their teeth and did a pretty good job away against a team I think are pretty decent."
Also Sunday, Valentine's woes continued when the Jets Youth scored three late goals to beat them 3-2 at CB Complex.
The second-last Phoenix were up 2-0 after quality strikes from Bailey Garland in the eighth and 46th minutes.
However, the Jets Youth threatened regularly and struck in the 74th minute through Maki Petratos.
Ryan Goodhew reacted quickly to knock in a rebound off the crossbar in the 80th minute before an unmarked Kieran Hayes tapped in at the back post off a Petratos cross in the 91st.
Phoenix remained on four points from seven game. The Jets, who can't play finals, rose to 13 from seven.
Valentine co-coach Sam Griffin, who was missing experienced trio Brenton Olzomer, Matt Paul and Chris Brown to injury, thought his side had done enough to win.
"You start to wonder what you have to do to win a game of football because I thought we were pretty good today and to get nothing out of it ...," Griffin said.
"It hurts our season but you can't expect much more from the boys. I thought they were all really good."