Jon Stead returns to show his class as Harrogate Town are edged out by Bolton Wanderers
Simon Weaver felt that veteran striker Jon Stead showed his class against Bolton Wanderers on what was his first Harrogate Town appearance in three months.
The veteran striker, who recently turned 38, was introduced as a 61st-minute substitute at the Bolton Uiversity Stadium on Saturday, and added an extra dimension to the Sulphurites’ attack.
Despite the fact that he has watched his team’s previous 18 matches from home, the former Premier League star looked as if he had never been away, twice coming close to scoring a crucial second goal in the visitors' 2-1 defeat.
“I thought he was brilliant,” said Weaver of what was Stead’s first appearance since a brief cameo against Cambridge United on January 9.
“Special praise for him, I thought that he showed his class, did Jon. He’s had a long absence from the team and yet he was tidier than most in the attacking areas and provided a threat. He showed that edge.
"He’s had two efforts on goal, one that was just over the top and the other is a fantastic save from their keeper from a great header.
“His presence was a lift, I think you could see with Jon the ability on the ball, high-end ability. He brought balls down from the sky, it was different class. He competed the best of our forwards physically, which is not easy at 38, but I thought he really showed that he is top class as a person and as a professional.”
Out-of-form Harrogate completely outplayed the title-chasing Trotters for most of the first half and deservedly led Saturday's League Two clash at half-time.
Jack Muldoon's excellent cross from the right was met by George Thomson, and although Matt Gilks produced an instinctive save at point-blank range, the ball rebounded off Gethin Jones and into the home net.
But, Wanderers were gifted an equaliser on 53 minutes when Dan Jones initially did well to win the ball just outside his own box, before losing possession to Lloyd Isgrove, who slid a low finish beyond James Belshaw.
The visitors then tossed what would have been a hard-earned point away as Eoin Doyle seized upon Connor Hall’s under-hit pass, drove towards the Town area and slotted a clinical 78th-minute finish past Belshaw.
Moments later, Stead's header from Jones' long throw-in was expertly tipped over by Gilks, and the experienced forward came close to a leveller again soon afterwards, but nodded wide of the mark.
The defeat, Harrogate's fifth in six matches, sees them drop to 17th in the League Two standings.