The veteran striker, who recently turned 38, was introduced as a 61st-minute substitute at the Bolton University 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 for the visitors.
“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.
“He brought balls down from the sky, 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 outplayed the title-chasing Trotters for most of the first half and deservedly led at the break courtesy of Gethin Jones’s 13th-minute own goal. But, Wanderers were gifted an equaliser on 53 minutes when Dan Jones initially did well to win the ball just outside his own area, 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 and slotted a clinical 78th-minute finish past Belshaw.
Bolton: Gilks; Jones, Santos, Baptiste, John; Lee (Brockbank 90+4), Williams; Maddison (Thomason 46), Isgrove (Elbouzedi 76), Afolayan (Delfuoenso 74); Doyle (Miller 90). Unused substitutes: Tutte, Gnahoua.
Harrogate Town: Belshaw; Burrell (Fallowfield 83), Smith, Hall, Jones; Thomson, Falkingham, Kerry (Francis 67), McPake (Kiernan 67); Beck (Stead 61), Muldoon. Unused substitutes: Cracknell, Williams.
Referee: S Allison (Wiltshire).
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