Lambton overcame illness, absence, a send-off and a late Maitland onslaught to beat the Magpies 2-1 on Sunday and hold top spot on the Northern NSW NPL table.
Jobe Wheelhouse pulled out an hour before kick-off at Cooks Square Park due to a stomach complaint, and his former Jets teammate Joel Griffiths started on the bench after flying in from Bali on the day of the game.
Wing-back Dain Greentree put the visitors in front before midfielder Michael Kantarovski went off with a groin strain after 20 minutes.
Ryan Clarke equalised for Maitland on the stroke of half-time, then Lambton’s Rhys Tippett did enough at the far post to bundle the ball over the line from a floated cross from the left in the 62nd minute.
But the work was far from done for the Jaffas.
Greentree was sent off minutes later for a second foul and the NPL frontrunners rode their luck in the dying stages as the home side searched for an equaliser.
“We had to clear our bench by about the 55th minute. From that point of view it was a really good result,” Jaffas coach James Pascoe said.
“First half we were really good. We moved the ball really well. Second half it was just a case of doing what we needed to do.”
Pascoe said his side were reaping the rewards for hard work after a lacklustre campaign last year.
“We started pre-season the week the Melbourne Cup was run. We worked really hard on the physical aspect and tactics. People struggle a little bit with the wing-backs we employ and how to counter that. It’s chalk and cheese to last year.”
Edgeworth (18 points) jumped Maitland (16) and Valentine (16) into second after beating the Phoenix 1-0 at Jack McLaughlan Oval.
Daniel McBreen scored his first goal of the season when he latched on to a clever overhead flick from Keigo Moriyasu and slipped the ball past the advancing Scott Carter in the 13th minute.
Hamilton Olympic (15) remained outside the top four after a frustrating 1-1 draw against Lake Macquarie at Darling St Oval.
The visitors took the lead against the run of play when Blake Green slotted home a rebound in the 17th minute. Olympic strikers Kane Goodchild and Scott Smith missed a host of good chances until Grant Brown fired home a long-range equaliser five minutes from time.
Weston won for the first time this season, downing Charlestown 3-0 at home.
Zac Thomas rose to meet a clipped corner from the right in the 26th minute and powered his header past Charlestown goalkeeper Nathan Archbold.
Fellow teenager James Thompson doubled the lead in the 62nd minute then Charlestown’s Rene Ferguson hit the bar from the penalty spot before Adam Smith added a third for Weston in the 94th minute.
On Saturday, Broadmeadow bounced back from their horror 7-0 loss to Maitland with a 5-1 win over the Newcastle Jets Youth thanks to doubles from James Virgili and Kale Bradbery.