Northampton Town 2 Luton Town 1 - Jefferson Lake’s view and player ratings

STAR MAN - Ricky Holmes was in brilliant form for the Cobblers in their win over Luton on Saturday (Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)
STAR MAN - Ricky Holmes was in brilliant form for the Cobblers in their win over Luton on Saturday (Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)
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When the Sixfields tapestry for the 2014/15 season is woven in the summer, the story of Ricky Holmes will be threaded into it with glittering gold.

With the hero Marc Richards fallen, the club looked to another to take his place as the leading figure in a storyline which may still climax in a top-seven finish. Holmes stepped forward.

In fairness, the winger has been excellent ever since he arrived and it is one of the bizarre mysteries of the season that he was allowed to leave Portsmouth after a string of flourishing displays as a part-time Northampton player.

But there will not have been a person in the ground on Saturday (at least outside of the away end) who does not feel a warm glow of satisfaction that Holmes is now a full-time player with the club.

He was everywhere against Luton Town, providing pace in attack and defence, fearlessly running at opposing players and picking out team-mates with passes with immaculate precision.

When the time came for a cool head, he showed one, dispatching a pressure penalty to draw his side level before they went on to win the game.

In the decade I have been writing ratings pieces such as these for the Chronicle & Echo, I have never given a player a 10 out of 10. Holmes was close this time, but will have to settle for ‘merely’ a nine.

His supporting cast were pretty good once they had been spurred into action by Luton scoring a fortuitous and quite possibly wind-assisted opening goal through Alex Lawless.

The first half was a poor 45 minutes of football with both teams living up to their reputations as ones out of form but Northampton had the better chances to score and were scorned when they went behind.

Things went up a notch with the double substitution Chris Wilder made after Holmes’ equaliser from the spot - to throw Darren Carter on at left-back was a risk but it paid off, and Ivan Toney brought some muscle to the forward line, which in turn brought James Gray into the contest more.

Still, it looked as though they would have to settle for a draw with Elliott Justham in excellent form in the Luton goal. When he did concede a second time he had already made two good saves earlier in the move, the first a particularly impressive reflex stop on a deflected Holmes shot.

Gray’s persistence paid off with the winning goal four minutes from time and the club will hope that moment of personal glory sparks a goalscoring streak for the player.

If he can get on the scoresheet a few more times in the remaining seven games then who knows how this season might pan out. The play-offs are still in reach so if nothing else it should be an interesting finale.

There are many reasons why that is the case. But a big reason is the acquisition of Ricky Holmes.

There will not have been a person in the ground on Saturday (at least outside of the away end) who does not feel a warm glow of satisfaction that Ricky Holmes is now a full-time player with the club

Jefferson Lake

Player ratings

MATT DUKE

The shot Lawless produced for the goal was right in the corner and no goalkeeper would have saved it - other than that he had almost nothing to do ...6

BRENDAN MOLONEY

Got more involved in the game in an attacking sense in the second half after seeming to be somewhat hesitant in the first 45 minutes ...7

RYAN CRESSWELL

At no point was he exposed by the visiting strikers and even when he was forced into wide areas he was comfortable and dealt with any danger easily ...7

LEE COLLINS

Does so much of the unseen work off the ball in terms of organising the shape of the defence and made a couple of physical contributions against a pretty toothless attack ...7

TOM NEWEY

The ankle injury with which he has struggled recently badly limited his influence in this game and he very rarely made it out of his own half ...6

JASON TAYLOR

Saw plenty of the ball and even managed to get a few shots away, the last of which led, albeit somewhat indirectly, to the game’s decisive goal ...7

JOEL BYROM

A return to form for the central midfielder, who is always at his best when he sticks to the simple stuff and only plays expansive passes when the situation allows it ...8

RICKY HOLMES

A masterclass in attacking midfield football, with invention and bravery on the ball married to a relentless industry. A first-class performance from a very good player ...9 STAR MAN

JOHN-JOE O’TOOLE

A minor improvement on the performance on his previous start but that isn’t saying much and the team improved after he had been substituted out of it ...5

LAWSON D’ATH

Has started getting his form in the right direction again and can be pretty pleased with the way he played here - the overwhelming feeling is he could really do with a goal ...7

JAMES GRAY

Chris Wilder will hope his 86th-minute matchwinner will give him the confidence that he can begin a scoring streak. Played with the usual intensity and work rate was impressive ...8

Substitutes:

IVAN TONEY (for O’Toole 64)

Put himself about and will have especially enjoyed his nutmeg late in the game but really should have scored with a well-timed but misplaced header with the score at 1-1 ...7

DARREN CARTER (for Newey 64)

An eyebrow-raising selection as emergency left-back but the right one; his calmness on the ball helped the team establish an increased dominance after equalising ...7

ZANDER DIAMOND (for Gray 88)

Not used: Carter, Warburton, Clifton, Jalal