The Maitland Magpies have jumped to second on the Northern NSW NPL ladder with a 3-0 win against Valentine and top-three rival Broadmeadow Magic drawing 1-1 with Adamstown.
The Magpies with 31 points are equal on games but three points behind top side Lambton and one and four points ahead of Magic (third) and Edgeworth (fourth).
Maitland made more chances and had the players to take advantage of them in a more workmanlike than spectacular performance against the last-placed Valentine whose most recent form was an impressive 1-all draw with Lambton at the end of the month.
Valentine opened the scoring in the 18th minute when Amanuel Ayelew scored from the penalty spot after Adam Hughes was brought down in the penalty area.
Maitland squared the scores in the 32nd minutes when Flynn Goodman headed home a high floating Jimmy Thompson corner from virtually the goal-line just beating the goalkeeper.
An almost identical Thompson set-up trapped Valentine again. Magpies skipper Carl Thornton headed the ball back into the goal area, a Valentine defender headed it back to Thornton who then a lobbed a kick into the path of teammate Tyran Counsins who rocketed home a volley from 10 metres out directly in front.
The Magpies went in 2-1 leaders and had the best of the chances in the opening 15 minutes of the second half.
Experienced duo Ryan Clarke and Alex Read came on in a double change in the 61st minute and made an immediate impact.
A Read header narrowly missed the mark in the 71st minute. Two minutes later Clarke tapped home the Magpies third from the right edge of the six-yard box capitalising on a superb Cousins cross across the face of goal.
The Magpies face a Weston Bears side with nothing to lose at Rockwell Automation Park on Saturday night.
Weston's slim chances of making the the finals were effectively snuffed out at home with 3-0 loss to Edgeworth Eagles.
However, their motivation will only be heightened with the chance to claim a regular season double in the local El Clasicoal derby.