Weston surged into the top five and hurt Maitland's premiership aspirations with a 3-2 win in the only round 17 match to go ahead in the Northern NSW NPL on a wet weekend.
A double from Tommy Duggan helped the Bears win the Coalfield derby at Cooks Square Park on Saturday, giving Weston nine points in six days to rise to fifth spot on 20 points from 13 games. Lambton Jaffas, who have played nine games, lead them on goals in fourth.
The Magpies are still in a three-way tie with leaders Broadmeadow and Charlestown at the top on 26 points, but they have now played 13 games - one more then the other two - after losses to Jaffas and Weston inside three days.
The result made it back-to-back wins inside three days for the Bears, and since coach Leo Bertos resigned on Tuesday. Interim coach Anthony Richards was proud of the effort against Maitland which moved Weston ahead of Newcastle Olympic (18) and clear of Edgeworth (16) and Valentine (13) in the battle for a top-five finals spot.
"It was good to not have another game backed up, but good to get the result, and I thought the boys did really well as far as effort and energy," Richards said.
"That's nine points in a week, so that's really good for us. We've got Cooks Hill midweek then we back up against Valentine. There's two physically hard games, but hopefully we get on."
Duggan, who had his first start in his return from a knee injury in the 5-2 victory over Lake Macquarie midweek, was the hero for Weston on Saturday, scoring with quality strikes against his former club.
Duggan struck from the top of the penalty area in the 19th minute after a deft touch and turn. He made it 2-0 in the 53rd minute, burying his one-on-one chance off a through ball from Cooper Buswell amid cries from Maitland for offside.
The Magpies, who were missing centre-back Zach Thomas (suspended), hit back two minutes later with Will McFarlane's header off James Thompson's corner.
Aaron Niyonkuru put the Bears two clear again in the 74th minute with his strike at the back post. Maitland made it 3-2 with the final touch of the game, in the ninth minute of stoppage time.
Richards said Duggan, who leaves this month for the US, was electric for his side.
"They were both good finishes, that first one in particular, it was a nice turn to bring the ball underneath him and he took it well," he said. "He played really well, not just his goals, but his work rate defensively was awesome I thought.
"Aaron took a nice touch to beat the defender then tucked it inside the front post for his goal. He and Tommy playing up front together did really well."
He praised defender Zac Sneddon who defied a knee injury to play the first half and "was outstanding, considering he was running at about 60 per cent". The Bears finished with 10 men after Nathan Morris went off with a leg cork in injury time.
He hoped Morris, Cooper Sargent (hamstring) and Michael McGlinchey (calf) would be fit to play midweek.
Magpies coach Mick Bolch said Sean Pratt who was travelling overseas had left a big hole in the midfield which had been compounded with the side missing Charles Cox and Grant Brown in addition to Thomas on Saturday
"We were a bit down of troops, but no excuse we are just conceding poor goals at the moment," he said.
"I don't know what it is, we've tried a back four, a back five but that's 10 goals we have conceded in the last four games and we are usually really good defensively.
"It doesn't matter how good you are in front of goals you can't win conceding three goals a game."
Bolch said the Magpies had their chances but the Bear were the better side.
"They wanted it more, particularly for the first 60 minutes. We only came home strong in the final 30 minutes," he said.
"But we've played a lot of footy, we've played the last three Wednesday nights that's the seventh or eight game in the last month.
There are a lot of tired boys, but no excuses as everyone is going to have to go through the same thing at some stage.
Bolch said while they were equal on points with Magic and Azzurri, the other two teams had games in hand and the focus for the time being would be a place in the top five and finals.
"We are six points clear, but teams have games in hand and unless we start putting some wins on the board we could miss out on finals," he said.
"This is the same team though that dominated for the first 90 minutes against Magic in the Australia Cup and I think it will turn around."
Maitland has a scheduled midweek game against Edgeworth at Cooks Square Park followed by a round 18 away game against Broadmeadow on Saturday, July 9.
The Bears host Cooks Hill on Wednesday night and are away to Valentine on Sunday.
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