Why Sam Jones has been allowed to leave Harrogate Town less than five months after arriving

When Sam Jones arrived at Harrogate Town this summer from League One Shrewsbury it appeared as if Simon Weaver had found the final piece of his squad jigsaw.

Saturday, 23rd November 2019, 11:11 am
Updated Saturday, 23rd November 2019, 12:00 pm
Sam Jones celebrates after scoring for Harrogate Town against Maindenhead United. Picture: Matt Kirkham

A proven goalscorer in both the National League with Gateshead and in League Two during a spell at Grimsby Town, the 28-year-old ticked all the boxes.

He was handed the number 10 shirt and his debut in pre-season suggested that Town had acquired a suitable replacement for the recently-departed Dominic Knowles; a forward who was obviously an accomplished finisher, but also a good technician, comfortable dropping into the hole, operating with his back to goal and linking the play.

Less than five months later, Jones is on his way out of Wetherby Road, joining Solihull Moors on a short-term loan deal as part of the move that saw ex-Birmingham City left-back Mitch Hancox head in the opposite direction.

"The only way that Solihull would let him [Hancox] come was if it was a swap deal, and they obviously knew that Sam [Jones] hadn't been getting much game-time," Weaver revealed.

"Their assistant manager [Gary Whild] worked with Sam at Grimsby and knows his qualities.

"It's a deal that works for everyone. Mitch wants to be playing regularly and Sam hasn't had the opportunities here that he will feel he has deserved."

It hasn't quite happened for Jones since he signed for Harrogate.

He has made just six appearances, four of them from the substitutes' bench, and scored one goal.

When he was handed a start and netted an early strike against Maidenhead United in September it appeared as if he had lift off.

Jones surely would have kept his place for the trip to Halifax just three days later but missed the game through illness.

Thus, Mark Beck was re-called to the starting XI, scored the winner at The Shay and has since gone on to play some of his best football in a Harrogate shirt.

Jones, meanwhile, has not kicked a ball in anger since, yet Weaver is not writing him off.

"It just hasn't quite clicked for Sam, but he hasn't really had the opportunities," the Town boss added.

"I'm very happy with our front four at this moment in time and with the likes of George Thomson really pushing for a place in the starting XI, this move makes sense.

"Everybody knows how good Sam Jones is. There's no questioning his ability, he's undoubtedly a talented footballer. Hopefully he will get some more game-time at Solihull."