A 94th minute Matt Thompson goal secured the Maitland Magpies a 3-2 win and top spot on the Northern NSW NPL ladder with two rounds to play.
The win, in the last of the Magpies' catch-up games, gives them a two point lead from the winner of the past four premierships Edgeworth.
With a points break and on paper the easiest draw in the final two games the Magpies are now clear favourites to take their first NPL title.
The Magpies were forced to fight all the way after Valentine opened the scoring early kicking with a three-goal breeze at their backs.
In freezing conditions Valentine defended in numbers and went into the break a 1-0 lead.
A big Old Boys Day crowd got behind Maitland as they came frustratingly close several times to getting the equaliser.
The home support included several members of the Magpies 1969 premiership and grand final team as well as one of the club's founders Harry Hetherington who was honoured with life membership at a half-time ceremony.
Joel Wood finally got Maitland on the board when he chipped the into the top of the net after a floating cross from Ryan Clarke went across the goal and landed at Wood's feet.
Thompson scored in almost identical fashion at the 75th minute, but the Mapgies were caught napping just minutes later and outnumbering the Maitland defence shot home an equaliser past Maitland keeper Matt Trott.
Ryan Clarke was superb in the manic final 20 minutes putting in one quality cross after another and continually taking on the Valentine defence.
Tommy Davies was creating headaches for Valentine with his best game of the season, pushing forward at every opportunity and being solid in defence.
Trott pulled off a brilliant save to prevent the Phoenix from taking the lead.
As the clock wound down it seemed like Maitland's efforts may be denied until the Valentine defence scrambled to clear the ball but only succeeded in putting into Thompson's path and he slammed home the winner.
The winner capped off a man-of-the-match performance by Thompson with Clarke and Davies also having fine games.
- More photos and full story to come