Holmes sinks old pals Pompey as Cobblers clinch win

Ricky Holmes scored the only goal of the Cobblers’ victory over Portsmouth on a dream return for the winger against the club he left in January.
HAPPY MAN - Ricky Holmes is all smiles after scoring against Portsmouth (Pictures: Sharon Lucey)HAPPY MAN - Ricky Holmes is all smiles after scoring against Portsmouth (Pictures: Sharon Lucey)
HAPPY MAN - Ricky Holmes is all smiles after scoring against Portsmouth (Pictures: Sharon Lucey)

Holmes struck after 25 minutes to settle the game 1-0 in favour of Northampton, who have now won eight of their past 10 games.

It is a blistering run of form which has also lifted them to within three points of the Sky Bet League Two play-off places.

The game started at a good pace with both sides having chances, Ryan Taylor with the best of them for Portsmouth, to which Matt Duke was equal and Ivan Toney driving wide from a good position.

Holmes had already been on a couple of decent little runs before he completed the one which finally punctured the visiting defence and broke the game’s deadlock on 25 minutes.

With no challenge forthcoming, the winger cantered into the box before unloading a delicious shot with his (apparently) weaker left foot and into the bottom corner.

It was enjoyable moment for Holmes, and a form of redemption perhaps too, but he did not celebrate in front of his former fans, who made their feelings on the player clear for all to hear.

This was a good night for the winger, who shortly afterwards beat two players with style and delivered a cross which Toney, whose range was out for most of the game, was unable to get on the end of.

Toney was brighter in the second half and especially so after being paired with Marc Richards, who replaced the strangely subdued Lawson D’Ath 10 minutes into the second half.

Portsmouth failed to capitalise on a major goalscoring chance in the 68th minute when substitute Andy Barcham beat the offside trap but opted to play a square pass rather than shoot when clean through.

From the corner, Paul Robinson headed at goal but Duke smothered it away with both hands on his line as the visitors attempted to build some momentum.

Richards had an effort cleared off the line by Ben Chorley after charging down goalkeeper Jones’ clearance in the left-back area and steadying himself for the shot.

Pompey’s best chance came on the volley for Craig Westcarr, who met a Jed Wallace cross with perfect timing 12 yards out but sliced the ball horribly wide of the target.

The visitors gradually built a head of steam and it felt like only a matter of time before they got their equalising goal, with Ryan Cresswell clearing off the line at the end of another Wallace-inspired attack.

Their route back into the game took a difficult turn when Ben Chorley was sent off for a second booking after clattering Moloney.

And a combination of some ‘game management’ and the march of time denied Portsmouth and gave the Cobblers yet another win.

Match facts

Cobblers: Duke; Moloney, Cresswell, Collins, Horwood; Taylor, Byrom; D’Ath, Hackett, Holmes; Toney

Subs: Richards (for D’Ath 55), Carter (for Hackett 67), Newey (for Holmes 83)

Not used: Jalal, Bodin, Newey, Diamond, Clifton

Portsmouth: Jones; Chorley, Devera, Robinson; Passley, Hollands, Atangana, Wallace, Butler; Taylor, Tubbs

Subs: Westcarr (for Passley 59), Barcham (for Atangana 59), Fogden (for Butler 78)

Not used: Webster, Ertl, Poke, Chaplin

Attendance: 4,871

Portsmouth fans: 798