Pompey forward throws down Connolly gauntlet

THRIVING Ricky Holmes, left, is congratulated by Simon Ferry after scoring against Burton Albion. Picture: Joe Pepler
THRIVING Ricky Holmes, left, is congratulated by Simon Ferry after scoring against Burton Albion. Picture: Joe Pepler

Ricky Holmes is keen to extend his blossoming partnership with Patrick Agyemang and told David Connolly: I’m ready for the battle.

The ex-Barnet man played a starring role in the 2-1 win at Burton last weekend – scoring his first goal for the club and then making the second for Simon Ferry.

Holmes has thrived in his new role playing just off the main striker in recent weeks.

And his displays have given Blues boss Guy Whittingham a tricky selection conundrum ahead of the home clash with Fleetwood this weekend as David Connolly returns from suspension.

The new system has worked well for Pompey since Connolly’s red card against Chesterfield.

But the former Republic of Ireland international is the top scorer in League Two with four goals to his name – and is a proven goal-getter.

Holmes believes Connolly is the best striker in the division – but joked that Whittingham could not change a winning team.

The 26-year-old said: ‘You hope for competition in your club and he (Connolly) is the best striker in the league without a shadow of a doubt – he has proved that.

‘So it will be nice competition for places for the manager to have.

‘But the gaffer can’t change it after a win can he?’

Whittingham could accommodate the in-form Holmes in a wide role to restore Connolly to the starting line-up.

But that would see Andy Barcham or Jed Wallace left out – and neither have done much wrong to warrant being dropped to the bench.

Regardless, the Blues boss will be pleased to have these tough selection decisions to make.

And Holmes believes the pairing with Agyemang is developing well.

He said: ‘Pat is fantastic to play with.

‘He is a big, strong lad and we work well together.

‘I think it’s a good partnership.

‘We said in the changing room we like playing together and we are building a good partnership over the past few games.

‘I do my fair share of grafting and can win a few headers.

‘But the team is quite free-scoring at the minute and we are probably up there with the top scorers in the league.’

Holmes is hopeful his strike is the first of many and has set himself a target of passing his top Barnet goal tally.

He said: ‘As a forward player, playing in the hole or on the wing, you want to get your first goal for a new club.

‘It was a scrappy goal but as a forward, you take any goal.

‘I don’t score too many of those little tap-ins to be fair and I was pleased to get the assist at the other end as well.

‘I got 10 goals (in a season) at Barnet and I’m around better players now.

‘So I’m sure I will be able to get there if I stay fit and stay in the team.

‘We’re all chipping in. I don’t mind if it’s me or someone else as long as we win.’