Adam Taggart’s 11th goal of the season saw the Newcastle Jets secure a 1-0 win over Melbourne Heart at Hunter Stadium on Saturday.
Adam Taggart-s 11th goal of the season saw the Hunter Ports Newcastle Jets secure a 1-0 win over Melbourne Heart at Hunter Stadium on Saturday night.
The visitors had the first chance of match inside the opening minute, with Mate Dugandzic delivering a cross from the right flank that was headed just wide of the target by Iain Ramsay.
The Jets- first opportunity came three minutes later, with Adam Taggart holding the ball up well on the edge of the area and drawing a foul from Patrick Kisnorbo.
Craig Goodwin, who was a late replacement for Joel Griffiths, stepped-up to take the set piece and drove the ball underneath the wall, only to see Heart shot-stopper Andrew Redmayne get down low and wrap the ball up.
The Heart went close to taking the lead 10 minutes into the contest, with Jets goalkeeper Mark Birighitti coming out to claim a corss from the left, only to miss the ball after being challenged by Heart big-man Orlando Engelaar.
The loose ball fell to Jonatan Germano, who hooked the ball back towards goal only to see his shot ricochet off the post. Josh Brillante made a cricual scrambling clearance to ensure there was no follow-up effort for the Heart.
A short time later, Goodwin carried the ball forward on the left wing, before driving a left-footed shot from long range that was unable to trouble Redmanye.
Goodwin was involved again three minutes later, with his free-kick delivering the best chance of the half for the Jets.
Former England international Emile Heskey rose above the pack to win the header, only to see it slide inches wide of the post with Redmayne stranded.
The Jets had another opportunity to take the lead six minutes later, with Andrew Hoole supplying an in-swinging free-kick towards the back post.
Kew Jaliens swooped in unmarked, but could not direct his side-footed volley towards the goal from an acute angle.
Neither side was able to create and more clear-cut opportunities during a cagey finish to the first half, with the sides entering the break deadlocked at 0-0.
The Heart created the first opportunity after the interval in the 47th minute, with Ramsay sliding a dangerous ball across the penalty area that picked out David Williams, only for him to miscue his shot at goal.
Less than a minute later, Dugandzic delivered a low cross from the right flank that was smothered by Birighitti into the path of Williams, but the Heart striker stabbed his cross over the bar from close range.
However despite the Heart-s chances, it was the home side who drew first blood in the 53rd minute with Taggart netting his 11th goal of the season.
Josh Brillante took a clever touch with his head to skip past Aziz Behich on the left flank, before delivering a pin-point low cross towards Taggart who made no mistake from close range, blasting the ball into the back of the net to give the Jets a 1-0 advantage.
Taggart almost had a brace in the 67th minute when he picked up the ball in space on the edge of the penalty area, before curling a shot towards the bottom corner that brought a superb one-handed save out of Redmayne.
Shortly after, Kew Jaliens rose well to meet a Goodwin corner with a powerful header, only see it to be tipped over the bar by Redmayne.
The Jets continued to repel everything the Heart threw at them and counter-attacked dangerously.
Taggart had another opportunity to seal the win in the 84th minute, breaking clear through on goal, only for Patrick Kisnorbo to get back in cover defence to slow the Olyroos striker down and allow Redmayne to smother his shot.
Three minutes later, Goodwin picked out Brillante on the opposite flank with a lovely switch of play, before the right-back unleashed a powerful half-volley that forced Redmayne to scramble and make a sharp save at his near post.
The Heart-s only real clear-cut opportunity to score an equaliser came in the 90th minute with Kisnorbo heading the ball down to Ramsay, who dragged a left-footed shot across Birighitti and just wide of the goal.
Taggart had a late opportunity to add to his tally in stoppage time, getting in behind the Heart defence before turning Robbie Wielaert inside and out, only to be denied by another great save from Redmayne.
In the end, it did not matter, with the Jets holding on to secure a 1-0 victory and move a step closer to finals football.
Newcastle Jets 1 (Taggart 53-) Melbourne Heart 0