JUST two weeks after scoring twice for the Socceroos in an 8-0 victory over Taiwan, Adam Taggart dropped back to National Youth League level yesterday and completed a brace for the Jets in a 4-1 win over Sydney FC.
Taggart was part of a quality youth team containing Hunter-bred over-age A-League players Ben Kennedy and Taylor Regan, as well as experienced Brazilians Tiago, 31, and Bernardo Ribiero, 23.
Against a young Sydney line-up, Newcastle lived up to expectations to dominate the first half for a 3-0 lead in sweltering conditions.
Taggart, who helped Australia secure a place at the East Asia Cup a fortnight ago in Hong Kong, played a minor role in the opening goal to Kale Bradbery then scored twice late in the half.
Bradbery completed his brace in the 84th minute before Sydney pinched a goal in the 87th minute as they finished strongly.
Right winger Andrew Hoole and striker Taggart terrorised Sydney’s defence in the opening minutes but it was Bradbery who benefited in the 16th minute when the pair’s lead-up work fell to him on the far post and he buried the chance with a right-foot strike.
Taggart got on the scoresheet in the 40th minute when he beat advancing goalkeeper Anthony Bouzanis one-on-one after a long pass from Ribiero.
The 19-year-old made it 3-0 just before half-time when he scored from a goal-mouth scramble after another incisive run from Hoole.
Bradbery finished off from a nice through-ball from Mitch Oxborrow to make it 4-0 before Sydney’s Alec Urosevski beat substitute keeper Jack Duncan.
Starting keeper Kennedy, the Jets’ A-League player of the year last season, returned from two months on the sidelines with a knee injury and was called on only a handful of times in his 58-minute stint. He made two diving saves in a solid performance and came through the match unscathed.
Defender Taylor Regan was the Jets’ only casualty, leaving the field with a hamstring strain in the 35th minute. Despite the convincing scoreline, Jets coach James Pascoe was not overly impressed with the performance.
The Jets missed several opportunities and switched off late to allow Sydney a handful of great chances.
‘‘We didn’t get out of first gear at any stage and didn’t need to really,’’ Pascoe said.
‘‘But the discipline has got to be better, in terms of our structure and timing of movement.
‘‘And as a club we need to develop a ruthless streak. That should have been a seven, eight-nil game, so it was very disappointing to concede a goal and for them to have other genuine chances late.
‘‘It’s 4-1 and everyone thinks that’s OK, but we have to do better.’’
While the focus was on the Jets high-profile players, Hoole was the standout performer yesterday.
The club’s youth player of last season created numerous scoring opportunities but Pascoe said he was still a work in progress.
‘‘Hooley’s training with the first team full-time now because everyone at the club recognises that he’s above this level now, and he showed that today,’’ Pascoe said.
‘‘But he still has room for improvement, especially with his positioning at times without the ball.’’
The Jets youth next play on January 6 when they host Melbourne Victory.