Harrogate Town 2 Barnet 1: Simon Weaver defends Jon Stead after red card

Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver has defended Jon Stead after the veteran striker was shown a second red card of the season, just four minutes after coming on a substitute.

Thursday, 31st October 2019, 11:16 am
Harrogate Town boss Simon Weaver. Picture: Matt Kirkham

The 36-year-old former Premier League star was given his marching orders for a late challenge on Dan Sweeney in the 77th minute of Tuesday’s National League clash against Barnet.

Stead’s team-mates did however “dig him out”, holding on for a 2-1 success that extends Town’s unbeaten run into a 10th match, and keeps them fourth in the National League standings.

“I think his touch ran away from him and his momentum followed through, but in this day and age you can probably see why he [the referee] sent him off,” Weaver reflected.

“However I don’t think he was high, I think his foot was down. We’ll have to see it on the video.

“The referee said after the game it was serious foul play, which could cost us a good player for three games and it made the task a lot harder with 10 men, but he wouldn’t have done it coming from an evil place.

“It’s difficult coming off the bench as a sub. You’re full of adrenaline, you want to make an impression, just as he did off the bench the other day and he wants it. But these things happen.

“He has to rely on his team-mates to dig him out, the 10 that were on the pitch and they did us proud.”

Town took the lead with a quarter of an hour of Tuesday’s contest gone, Jack Muldoon smashing home his fourth goal of the season from George Smith’s corner.

Smith himself doubled the hosts’ advantage when he overlapped down the left, got on the end of Jack Diamond’s pass and fired past Scott Loach.

Barnet then pulled one back against the run of play nine minutes before half-time through David Tutonda.

The Bees pressed hard for a second goal after the resumption, yet despite Stead’s sending off, Town were able to hold out for victory.

They came under serious pressure during the closing stages and were indebted to James Belshaw for a fine 94th-minute double-save that thwarted Mauro Vilhete then Josh Walker.

“Obviously going down to 10 men against a side like Barnet - a good footballing team - it does make you drop deeper into your own half. It was a rearguard action and the six minutes of added-time seemed to take years,” Weaver added.

“Full credit to the players, they reduced Barnet to very few real opportunities to score.

“There was the shot from outside the box and the second reactionary save from James Belshaw was a fine save, but apart from that there weren’t too many open chances for them.

“It was a tricky second half, but we’re just delighted to get through unscathed.”

Next up for Town is a trip to 16th-placed Eastleigh on Saturday.