Heart finally end their A-League winless streak

BEN MCKAY
Last updated 02:16 18/01/2014

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Two goals from Mate Dugandzic has steered Melbourne Heart to a 3-1 win over the Newcastle Jets and ended the A-League's longest winless run.

When defender Taylor Regan scored from Newcastle's first real chance of the match, it seemed like the same old story for Melbourne Heart, winless since last February.

Instead, the Heart completed a fairytale finish in their 100th game with a victory to snap a 19-match winless streak going way back to a 3-1 triumph over Sydney FC last season.

First, Iain Ramsay volleyed past Mark Birighitti with help from a Kew Jaliens deflection, then Dugandzic buried a close-range header to give the Heart a lead they never gave up.

It was sweet relief for the Heart, who like so many times during their run had started strongest, but this time turned their advantage into a lead.

Playing in the cool change on the back of Melbourne's heatwave, the Heart showed more attacking intent but were restricted to shots outside the box early.

After six minutes, Ramsay's curling shot was neatly saved by Birighitti, with the resulting corner headed narrowly over by Patrick Gerhardt.

A minute later Harry Kewell, leading the Heart forward in the absence of the dropped Michael Mifsud, called Birighitti into action again with a swerving shot from outside the box.

Despite the absence of any attacking threat from the Jets, the Heart failed to fashion chances on their own pitch and were punished on 37 minutes.

A distracting run from Emile Heskey left Regan alone at the back post and he headed in Craig Goodwin's corner.

Six minutes later, the Heart's reply came from a hopeful long ball headed down by Kewell to the waiting Ramsay.

His volley deflected firmly off the lunging Jaliens to leave Birighitti no chance.

And the Jets struck again in first-half added time with Aziz Behich's pinpoint cross finding Dugandzic unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box.

The Jets showed more intent after the break, with substitute James Brown twice testing Andrew Redmayne.

In the 60th minute, Heart fans saved a huge cheer for the first appearance of giant marquee Orlando Engelaar, who headed wide from a corner straight away.

And shortly after, Dugandzic raced onto Ramsay's intelligent through-ball to slot his second.

Heart coach John van't Schip said was proud of his team coming back from a deficit to win.

"After all the hard work and all the games they didn't win, today they proved it's a team that can win," he said.

"That's the most important thing for them, for the fans, for the club."

Opposite number Gary van Egmond didn't mix his words describing the Jets' performance.

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"I thought it was arguably our worst (performance). A good reality check," he said.

Melbourne Heart 3 (Iain Ramsay 44m, Mate Dugandzic 45+1m, 68m) Newcastle Jets 1 (Taylor Regan 37m) at AAMI Park. Crowd: 5,046. Referee: Alan Milliner

- AAP

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