Ricky Holmes was once again Northampton’s game-changer on Saturday and manager Chris Wilder has almost ran out of superlatives to describe the irrepressible winger who continues to confound all expectation.
The 28-year-old missed the first five months of the season through injury but has returned to the team in sensational style, scoring a string of stunning goals that have played a major role in Cobblers’ title charge.
His latest came on Saturday when brilliantly rifling a first-time, 20-yard volley into the bottom corner to give Northampton the lead over Notts County, and he then took his tally into double figures for the season when coolly dispatching a second-half penalty to salvage a point.
“I wonder what would have happened if I had him at the start of the season,” mused Wilder after Saturday’s 2-2 draw with the Magpies.
“But the players did great to get us in that position because we missed a big player for the first part of the season.
“He’s been a big player for the second part of the season. He gives us a spark and is a match-winner and scores all different types of goals.
“He loves the club and loves playing for us, loves the support and loves playing here.
“He’s at home here and we get the benefits of that.
“It wasn’t a free-flowing performance but when you needed someone do to something, whether it’s take a penalty under pressure or bang one in from 25 yards, he comes up with the goods.”
With strikes against Dagenham, Leyton Orient, Stevenage and now Notts County, Holmes has repeatedly demonstrated his uncanny ability to score breathtaking goals over the past few months.
His volley at Orient was perhaps the most outrageous but Saturday’s first-half strike illustrated perfect technique to control a dropping ball and find the bottom corner.
Wilder added: “It’s dropping out of the sky from a corner and to keep your concentration when people are coming to block it and to strike it as well as he did says loads about his technique and his temperament.
“He’s a cool customer and he set up a couple of things late on where we should score but he’s played a big part since coming back into the team.
“We’re delighted to have him and I believe he really enjoys playing for this football club.”