An Adam Taggart hat-trick has heaped further misery upon Melbourne Heart as Newcastle Jets accounted for the winless A-League cellar-dwellers 3-1 at Hunter Stadium on Sunday.
The sublimely in-form Taggart scored in the 38th, 55th and 62nd minutes to hand the struggling Heart their fifth successive defeat and put even more heat on embattled Heart coach John Aloisi.
Taggart has scored six goals in three weeks and that tally has rocketed the striker to the top of the A-League goalscorers’ list.
His three largely individual efforts came from pinpoint shots on or outside the penalty area.
Taggart’s third came after Andrea Migliorini had given the visitors some hope with a goal from a free kick in the 58th minute – the Heart’s first in 447 minutes of play – that deflected off the arm of Josh Mitchell.
Taggart was roundly cheered by the crowd of 12,806 when he was replaced by James Brown in the 81st minute after spearheading the Jets’ rise to third on the A-League ladder on the back of their third consecutive win.
The Jets have only tasted defeat once this year in their round one 2-0 loss to Sydney FC.
The Heart remain last with just two points to show from their efforts after seven rounds.
The Heart started the better of the two sides and had a great chance to go ahead early when David Williams had a shot on goal in just the fifth minute, but a great save from Mark Birighitti denied him.
Newcastle gradually took control of the contest as the half wore on and they looked the side most likely to score.
And so it was when Taggart found his range from just outside the penalty area and blasted the ball past Andrew Redmayne for the opener just seven minutes before the break.
The Jets had another golden chance in injury time in the first half but captain Ruben Zadkovich skied the shot from close range well over the bar.
The Heart did well to fight their way back into the contest with Migliorini’s second-half goal but Taggart soon ruthlessly put paid to any hopes they might have had of climbing out of their deep rut.