Half-term report card: Newcastle Jets

As we approach the mid-point of season nine of the Hyundai A-League, we take a look at how the teams are progressing.

Even. It is the only way to describe Newcastle Jets' season, by the numbers.

In 13 matches, Newcastle has scored 13 goals, conceded 13, won five and lost five, with three draws.

They sit sixth, marooned in mid-table after a slow start was followed by a mini-surge and now, a bout of inconsistency.

Two points clear of seventh placed Perth, Newcastle is well within sight of third placed Central Coast Mariners, who sit only two points ahead of them.

Their marquee striker, Emile Heskey, has struggled with injury through the opening half of the season, making seven appearances, only one of them from the start.

In his place, a star was born.

Adam Taggart, brimming with potential at the start of the year, has become a fully fledged goal scorer of top quality. His six goals this season include a sensational hat-trick against Melbourne Heart at Hunter Stadium and his combination with Nathan Burns has been Jets' main attacking threat.

Their goalkeeper, Mark Birighitti, has been in fantastic form all season, whilst in front of him, veteran defender Kew Jaliens has recovered from a slow start to become the imposing presence that his pedigree suggests.

Gary Van Egmond has utilised the rough diamonds of youth in midfield and attack, with Josh Brillante in particular enjoying an impressive season thus far.

The Jets need to find consistency from somewhere though, if they are to break free from the mid-table cluster they find themselves in. Their two wins over Brisbane Roar this season illustrates their immense potential.

STAR MAN: Adam Taggart

Grave fears were held for the Jets when the extent of Heskey's injury problems became evident but when that door closed, another opened in the form of Taggart.

Always a young player of real potential, Taggart revelled in the responsibility imposed on him by Van Egmond, making the centre forward position his own in Heskey's absence.

Taggart's clever runs and desire to shoot on sight has reaped rewards for him and his side, and he has six goals to his name, tied with Stein Huysegems as the second-top goal scorer. Only James Troisi (seven goals) has found the back of the net more than Taggart.

His form has seen him rewarded with a call up to the Olyroos side for the AFC Under-22 Championship in Oman, this month.

COACH'S REPORT: Gary Van Egmond

Van Egmond came under fire after a wobbly start to the season, but from there Newcastle found their best form. Taggart's hot-streak propelled Newcastle up the table and at one point they sat as high as third.

They have been struck by the curse of inconsistency since and Van Egmond will have to work out how to re-shape his side in the absence of Taggart.

The return to fitness of Emile Heskey is a plus and Van Egmond has spoken of his desire to build the side around the big number 9. He also has options in Michael Bridges and Joey Gibbs.

Van Egmond has achieved what many have not, masterminding not one, but two wins over the pace-setters, Brisbane Roar.

If he can get his side playing to that level on a more consistent basis, then Newcastle are very capable of making an impact towards the back end of the season.


The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and do not reflect those of Football Federation Australia.