A-League top scorer Adam Taggart has fired Newcastle Jets to a 1-0 victory over in-form Melbourne Heart at Hunter Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
After a largely unspectacular first half punctuated by a series of fouls, Jets defender Josh Brilliante produced a moment of class early in the second half to tee up Taggart for the opener.
The Jets dominated most of the second half and despite a host of chances to kill the game off, they were forced to fight until the final whistle to seal the three points and move up to sixth on the A-League ladder.
The match began in perfect conditions and Melbourne Heart had a glorious chance to open the scoring in the opening minute but Iain Ramsay fluffed his header from six yards after a lovely cross from Mate Dugandzic.
The Jets responded with a free kick through Craig Goodwin in the 4th minute but the winger’s strike from the edge of the area was well smothered by Heart custodian Andrew Redmayne.
Heart dominated the opening period of the match and were nearly rewarded in the 10th minute through Jonatan Germano who struck the post with a spectacular volley.
Jets keeper Mark Birighitti flapped at a cross from Mate Dugandzic before Germano produced an acrobatic overhead kick which smacked into the post before being cleared by Kew Jaliens.
The match stalled into a stop-start affair in the ensuing stages with a succession of niggly fouls creeping into the contest which made it difficult for both teams to maintain extended periods of possession.
The Jets had a golden chance to break the deadlock in the 20th minute through marquee man Emile Heskey but the Englishman guided his header just wide after a super cross from Craig Goodwin.
Both sides created a number of half chances in the first half but a lack of cutting edge in the final third ensured the game remained goalless at the break.
Much like the first half, the Heart could have opened the scoring in the 48th minute through David Williams but the attacker blasted his close range shot over following an uncharacteristic fumble from Birighitti.
The visitors were made to pay for their wastefulness in the 53rd minute with Jets striker netting a true poacher’s goal to take his tally to 11 for the season.
Jets fullback Josh Brilliante made a surging run forward before scooting around Aziz Behich and squaring to Taggart on the six yard box who made no mistake on the half volley.
The Jets gradually gained the ascendency following the goal and Taggart nearly doubled the advantage in the 67th minute but his curled effort from the edge of the area was well kept out by Redmayne.
Heart injected Socceroos legend Harry Kewell to add some creativity in the front third but they struggled to get the veteran into the game.
The Jets continued to push for a second and were nearly rewarded through Kew Jaliens in the 71st minute but the Dutchman’s header was spectacularly saved by Redmayne to keep the visitors alive.
Despite dominating the majority of the second half, the Jets began to tire in the latter stages and looked noticeably nervous as they tried to hold out a desperate Heart outfit.
Heart nearly snatched a draw in injury time after Patrick Kisnorbo expertly knocked down a ball inside the area for Iain Ramsay but the winger flashed his effort just wide of goal.
The Jets could have sealed the match in the 92nd minute when Taggart was put through one on one but Andrew Redmayne made an excellent save with his legs.
Despite a host of chances to seal the match in the second half, the Jets managed to hold on for a hard fought 1-0 victory and temporarily put themselves inside the top six.
Newcastle Jets 1 (Taggart 53’) def Melbourne Heart 0
Crowd: 10,117 at Hunter Stadiumcomments