One To Watch - Jon Stead
Ipswich forward Jon Stead has been outlined by Vital QPR as the One to Watch ahead of this weekend`s clash in W12.
Stead came up through the ranks of his home town club Huddersfield Town and made his debut at the age of 19 in a 2-0 defeat at home to Brentford. He bagged his first goals in his 14th appearance for the Terriers - a brace in a 3-0 home win against Notts County.
Further goals against Colchester United and Swindon Town saw him impress in his first full season in Division 2. He first met QPR in March 2003 and the R`s took all three points courtesy of Dan Shittu and a Paul Furlong brace.
Later that season Stead bagged another brace in a 4-0 win over Chesterfield, but it wasn`t enough as the Terriers were relegated.
Stead started his Division 3 campaign in good form, scoring four goals in three games to get Huddersfield off to a flyer. This included the opening goal as Town went on to beat Derby County 2-1 in the League Cup.
His goals put Huddersfield in a commanding position in the fourth tier of English football as the 6"3 forward had hit 18 goals in 31 games. This aroused the interest of several Premier League clubs including Blackburn Rovers who eventually captured his signature for £1.25m late on in the January transfer window.
He announced his arrival in the top flight in rapid fashion scoring the winning goal for Rovers against Middlesbrough. He followed this up with a late equaliser against Newcastle United - with further goals coming against Aston Villa, Fulham and Everton.
Undoubtedly his highest point that campaign came when he scored the late winner for Rovers at Ewood Park against Manchester United, which really marked his transformation from Division 3 marksmen to Premier League goalscorer.
Stead was also present at the Millennium Stadium as Huddersfield Town were promoted back to the Second Division via a penalty shootout. Liam Lawrence`s missed penalty handing the Terriers promotion.
In 2004/05 Stead struggled to make any impact on the Premier League in stark contrast to what was seen in the previous season. Only scoring two goals in 34 appearances for Rovers coming against Everton and Birmingham City.
Stead was promptly shipped out of Blackburn and made the move north-east to Sunderland for the princely sum of £1.8m. Quite how his fee appreciated by £550k during his baron spell with Blackburn only manager Mick McCarthy will know.
The striker had another season to forget bagging only one goal in 34 games as Sunderland plummeted back to the Championship with 15 points. There were problems at the start of the following season as Sunderland started to struggle in the Championship.
Stead`s goal against Southend came as welcome relief for the striker, but nevertheless he was moved out on loan to Derby County. He came on as a substitute as County beat QPR 2-1 at Loftus Road, looking dangerous as he struck the post late on in the second period.
Three goals in 17 appearances for the Rams was hardly the kind of goalscoring form they required but nevertheless his overall play was proving successful as Premier League Sheffield United snapped the forward up for £750k.
Goals against Fulham, West Ham United, Charlton Athletic and Wigan Athletic were added to with a goal against former club Blackburn Rovers - but it wasn`t good enough to Stead and United who were relegated back to the Coca Cola Championship - with former clubs Derby County and Sunderland moving in the other direction.
Stead struggled again in the Championship in 2007/08 with only three league goals helping Sheffield United to ninth place. He managed to match this with a further three goals in cup competition, most notably the second in the win against Manchester City.
He also played in United`s 1-1 draw with Rangers at Loftus Road - Chris Morgan cancelling out Angelo Balanta`s first ever senior goal. It wasn`t enough for Stead with Sheffield United seeing fit to loan him out to Ipswich before the end of the summer transfer window.
He seems to have rekindled some of his old form at Portman Road with nine goals so far this campaign. Two of which came against Gareth Ainsworth`s QPR, as Stead came off the bench to settle the game as a contest.
While his sporadic goalscoring form has been a cause for concern in recent years, his overall contribution to games has never been in question. A player who wanders in search of a home may well have found it at Portman Road.
quietman: "The way Jim rotates the squad these days, you will be hard pushed to predict who will start. But i will stick my neck out and say that Luciano Civelli would be one to watch for."
hades: "I reckon our key player against QPR (Magilton`s selections pending of course...) would be Counago if he starts.
"The way he plays, with his back to defenders for most of the time, causes problems to more physical defences who have no idea how to handle it without chopping him down.
"Counago is a one of a kind player...I've not seen anyone close to him in the Championship before. In fact he is almost a slower and less explosive version of Henry in his earlier Arsenal days. Not as good of course."
Pete-the-tractor: "You never know with Stead, He could play a blinder and score a couple and look a real threat, or he'll go completely un-noticed like Maradona's hand of god!! So your guess is as good as ours! Hopefully Jim will starts with Pabs and Stead??"
Just-an-ipswich-fan: "Stead is a decent player - but I wouldn't call him a dangerman, by any stretch of the imagination.
"I think a better option for Dangerman would have to be Civelli. He has come in, and despite not having full match fitness, he is more than a handle. His touch is superb, he will run all day, he's tall, powerful and good in the air. He can whip in beautiful crosses, and really is looking a handful for defences.
"He doesn't just stick to that left wing - he cuts in a lot, and pops up in the area for most attacks. He has tricks in his locker, and is not afraid to get back and cover in defence.... there's the real dangerman!"
Charnwood Blue: "We don't have any strikers that could be classed 'danger man' and there lies the root of our problem.
"Counago & Stead should be given an extended run as they're the best we have but they hardly 'set the place on fire' and their goal scoring record is pretty dismal.
"Part of the problem is the lack of confidence, knowing that any mistake will probably mean that you get dropped for the next game.
"I believe that if these two were confident that their place was safe for at least half a dozen games they would build up a better understanding, gain more confidence and the goals would start to flow."
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