Jack Muldoon underlines his importance to the Harrogate Town cause with classy performance against Bradford City
The versatile 31-year-old attacker netted three goals from the left wing in the Sulphurites' opening two league fixtures this term before picking up a muscle strain in September's FA Trophy semi-final win at Notts County.
Having been sidelined for fixtures against Port Vale, Bolton and Leicester City under-21s, he returned to Simon Weaver's starting line-up at Valley Parade in a striking role and delivered a performance which oozed class.
His all-round contribution - running the channels, looking after the ball, linking the play in the final third and closing down defenders - was excellent, but it was Muldoon's ability to adapt to the situation of the game and find a way to really influence it that was particularly impressive.
Starved of the kind of excellent service he can usually rely on as his team struggled to create an end product from several promising situations, the ex-Lincoln City man took matters into his own hands, drifting wide onto the right and supplying the type of balls into the box that he himself would doubtless have loved to try and get on the end of.
The first of these deliveries landed perfectly on the head of his strike partner, Jon Stead forcing an excellent save from Bantams stopper Richard O'Donnell, while another found Lloyd Kerry, who decided the contest with a deft 74th-minute finish.
"It was a wonderful ball in," Town boss Weaver reflected.
"I think he put three fantastic balls, did Jack Muldoon, three absolute pearlers, we just needed him on the end of them as well.
“I just think he seems to get better and better as a player.
“The way that he looks after the ball, not that he was ever bad at it, but it's so much improved from when he first came here.
“He takes pride in looking after the ball, he’s tidy with it, shifts it quickly, passes it properly and is strong.
“His hold-up play is also good and his pace and tenacity always worries the opposition, so it’s obviously a big miss when he’s not available."