Holmes on target as Charlton condemn Cobblers to fourth straight defeat

OUT OF REACH: Josh Magennis' header eludes Town goalkeeper David Cornell. Pictures: Sharon Lucey
OUT OF REACH: Josh Magennis' header eludes Town goalkeeper David Cornell. Pictures: Sharon Lucey

Cobblers finally scored their first goal of the season on Saturday but it wasn't enough to prevent a fourth straight defeat as Ricky Holmes' second-half strike helped Charlton Athletic to a 4-1 victory.

In terms of chances alone, Northampton matched Charlton - prior to a crazy late finish - and created enough opportunities to come away with more than another defeat but their general play at times lacked structure and discipline, especially in the second-half when Charlton threatened to run riot following Holmes' goal.

David Buchanan up against old team-mate Ricky Holmes

David Buchanan up against old team-mate Ricky Holmes

The Cobblers made the worst possible start when Josh Magennis got free inside the box and nodded in Holmes' cross barely two minutes in, but the visitors were far from outplayed thereafter and would have gone in level at the break had they brought their scoring boots.

But, predictably, their failure to convert proved costly and it had to be Holmes who bagged the all-important second goal with an emphatic finish, prolonging Northampton's wait for a first point of the season despite Marc Richards finally ending their 600-minute goal drought when heading home with 11 minutes remaining.

Town, whose forgettable afternoon was compounded by an injury-time brace from Jake Forster-Caskey, now sit second-bottom in Sky Bet League One, above only Oldham on alphabetical order, and even though the season is just two weeks old, the pressure to get off the mark now increases several notches, all the more so given that their next opponents are red-hot Peterborough United have won all three games.

Saturday's defeat also means it's the first time that Northampton have lost their opening four games of any campaign - in all competitions - since joining the Football League 97 years ago.

A minute's silence was held before kick-off in tribute to the Barcelona attack

A minute's silence was held before kick-off in tribute to the Barcelona attack

As expected, Justin Edinburgh kept faith in 3-5-2 and made only one change to the team that lost at Fleetwood, recalling Leon Barnett to defence in place of Regan Poole.

Or at least that was the plan but, just prior to kick-off, Chris Long limped off in the warm-up, which forced Edinburgh to put Richards up front alongside Alex Revell, with Joe Iaciofano on the bench.

The two players who signed in the week, Luke Coddington and Matt Grimes, also both made the bench, as did fit-again Daniel Powell, but John-Joe O'Toole once again missed out.

And Northampton's problems deepened within two minutes of kick-off when Charlton hit the front. Holmes was the architect, brushing aside Barnett and working space for a teasing cross which was met by the head of Magennis, who out-muscled the away defence and nodded into the bottom corner.

Holmes was already causing headaches for Town and his long-range shot was then fumbled by David Cornell before Town eventually settled down and got a foothold, with two chances falling for Richards in as many minutes.

His first was a speculative volley that skewed wide but his second opportunity required a fine full-length stop from Ben Amos after the Northampton skipper latched onto Aaron Phillips' threaded through ball and fired towards the far corner.

Phillips' participation was then ended by injury, replaced by Brendan Moloney, but the visitors had done well to weather Charlton's early storm and were now in the ascendancy, highlighted by two quick chances for Ash Taylor

Amos held Taylor's first attempt after swivelling in the box and taking aim at goal before the defender found himself unmarked at the back post where he got his header all wrong from Yaser Kasim's deep free-kick, miscuing horribly off target.

The first-half remained open and entertaining, and it was then Charlton's turn to threaten when Matt Crooks lost possession in a dangerous area, allowing Holmes to break and release Tariqe Fosu, who dragged his shot wide when confronted by Cornell.

The visitors were vulnerable defensively but dangerous in attack and that was proven again shortly before half-time. Billy Waters brought down Richards' flick inside the area, only for his attempt to be smothered by the onrushing Amos who also snuffed out Richards on the rebound.

Holmes brought two relatively straightforward saves from Cornell in the closing moments of the half as the Cobblers remained in the contest at just one goal behind going into half-time.

And they created another very presentable opportunity that again went begging moments after the restart, this time Moloney heading Waters' cross wide at the back post.

Charlton too were guilty of being wasteful in front of goal and they squandered a glaring chance to make their position safe when Magennis inexcusably lashed over with the goal at his mercy after Cornell denied Fosu.

Northampton had suddenly become noticeably stretched as they pushed forward, prompting Edinburgh to make an alteration by introducing Matt Grimes for his debut, replacing Kasim, but then came the killer blow. Inevitably, Holmes delivered it when thrashing a venomous shot beyond Cornell and into the net.

The home side, and Holmes in particular, fancied more and Magennis nearly obliged when shooting wide, but, almost out of the blue, there was a lifeline for Northampton.

With 11 minutes left, and now playing 4-4-2, substitute Daniel Powell sent in a cross and Richards stooped low to head beyond Amos and into the corner, resurrecting hope of an unlikely comeback.

That did not materialise, however, and in fact it was the Addicks who had the final word when Forster-Caskey was afforded the freedom of the Northampton penalty area to sidefoot in before then brilliantly curling home a wonderful fourth, sealing Charlton's victory in style.

Charlton: Amos, Solly (c), Bauer, Pearce, DaSilva, Forster-Caskey, Kashi, Holmes (Konsa 82), Clarke (Jackson 90), Fosu (Ahearne-Grant 73), Magennis

Subs not used: Phillips, Aribo, Sarr, Hackett-Fairchild

Cobblers: Cornell, Barnett, A Taylor, Pierre (Powell 74), Phillips (Moloney 13), Crooks, Kasim (Grimes 57), Buchanan, Waters, Richards (c), Revell

Subs not used: Coddington, Poole, McWilliams, Iaciofano

Referee: Kevin Johnson

Attendance: 11,289

Cobblers fans: 881