The Maitland Magpies defeated Valentine 1-0 in tough, draining conditions to secure a place in the Northern NSW NPL finals.
However, it may have come at a major cost with star defensive midfielder Andrew Swan carried from the ground early in the second half with what appeared to be a knee injury.
Swan's brother Matt was already on the sidelines with a hamstring injury and will also struggle to be fit for Maitland's opening final in two weeks time.
Maitland scored soon after the half-time break with James Thompson stretching to intercept a pass coming out of defence and directing the ball in the same action to star striker Braedyn Crowley who was lurking just outside the penalty area.
Crowley controlled the ball in the centre of the field and then struck the ball into the bottom left corner just wide of a diving effort by the keeper.
The goal took Crowley's record to 13 goals from 13 games.
At the other end Maitland keeper Matt Trott did his part by parrying a red-hot strike from just outside the penalty in the 58th minute.
The Valentine keeper kept his side's chances alive with two good saves. First up, he kept out an unmarked header from Joel Wood in the 70th minute and then pushed a late low-strike by Sam Webb wide of the post.
It was a workman-like win in difficult hot and windy conditions, but it may not have been enough to secure a double-chance or home elimination final, with top-five rivals Newcastle Olympic and Charlestown Azzurri both winning.
Olympic as expected defeated Adamstown 2-0 on Saturday and Azzurri pulled off a surprise 2-0 win over second-placed Broadmeadow Magic on Sunday.
The Magpies sit third on 22 points and Olympic and Azzurri are fourth and fifth respectively on 20 points. Maitland has the bye in the final round and could drop to fifth if Olympic beat Valentine and Azzurri beat Lake Macquarie.
Lambton, who had the bye this weekend. have to win and rely on Olympic or Azzurri to sneak into the top five.
Weston finish with 3-0 win
Aaron Niyonkuru scored a double as the Weston Bears finished the 2020 season with a 3-0 win against Lake Macquarie at Rockwell Automation Park on Saturday
After a scoreless first half, Cooper Buswell opened the scoring in the 51st minute. Niyonkuru doubled the lead seven minutes later and sealed the win with his second in the 65th minute.
Weston have the bye in the final round and will finish in seventh place on 18th points, a game outside the top five.