Skipper Carl Thornton has called on a big home crowd to "return the favour" to leaders Weston as Maitland look for redemption in an expected fiery Coalfields derby on Sunday.
On a high from the signing of Thornton's cousin and former Jet, Nick Cowburn, the Magpies host the Bears at Cooks Square Park in round 14 of the Northern NSW NPL.
Maitland, who are through to the FFA Cup round of 32, are fourth on 20 points, five behind Weston but with two games in hand. The signing this week of Cowburn, who is overseas and not expected to play until round 16, has raised already high expectations at Maitland.
"We're travelling pretty well," Thornton said. "We've won five on the trot, including FFA Cup, and we've still got a few players to come back from injury. Then to add Nicko into the mix as well will be pretty good.
"It's great news for the club and it will give us a bit of a boost for the FFA Cup and second half of the season.
"Nicko is going to have a few goals in him. He's pretty deadly on set pieces and his distribution from midfield will be second to none, so I think the boys up front will definitely benefit."
The immediate focus, though, was on payback in the derby. Weston beat Maitland 2-1 in a fiery first clash this season, which was the Magpies' opener because of a first-round bye and washout.
"It's good for the region to have both teams up there in the top four and pushing for the premiership," said Thornton, a former Weston captain.
"It's been a good local rivalry since Maitland have come back up, so I'm sure it will get a bit fiery on Sunday, but you expect that in a derby. We're just looking to improve on our first-round performance against them. We were under par that game so we'll be looking for a bit of redemption.
"There was a bit of push and shove and we ended up getting a player sent off. I'm expecting it to be a bit the same on Sunday. It makes a difference when you're playing at Bear Park, it's always a bit of a hostile crowd, so we're hoping for a big crowd to return the favour."
He said Matt Thompson (calf) remained out but Ryan Broadley (hand) was a chance to return.
Bears skipper Nathan Morris said his full-strength side expected an improved Magpies performance.
"It's a big game and we're well aware of how important it is for trophies at the end of the year," Morris said. "We're all excited and raring to go.
"They are flying and they've had a good run in the cup, so they will be full of confidence. I think they will be a different beast to what we played the first round. That was their first game of the year, so we're expecting a lot tougher hit-out."
Also Sunday, Lake Macquarie host Charlestown and Edgeworth play the Jets Youth. On Saturday, Lambton Jaffas are away to Adamstown (1pm) and Hamilton host Broadmeadow (5pm).