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Holmes, Sweet Holmes


Chris Sumpter makes his return and asks: “Is Duane Holmes the most exciting Glanford Park arrival in years?”

Work commitments meant I missed last Saturday’s slaughtering of Southend United.

‘Typical’ would normally be my response. But the fact it was only the Iron’s best league performance at Glanford Park since their previous home game certainly tempers the frustration.

I have though since watched 10, joyous minutes of highlights. And the performance of Duane Holmes made particularly mouth-watering viewing.

I’m always cautious to read too much into highlights. They are, after all, just that – a summary of the supposed best bits.

A bit like when footballers put clips of themselves onto YouTube, Cruyff-turning their way past a defender and then finding the top corner from 30-yards. Nobody ever includes the 17 times they gave away possession.

However, the subsequent reaction from several parties – Graham Alexander the great, who labelled Holmes ‘unplayable’, included – to the performance of the former Huddersfield Town man only backed up what had me salivating over my keyboard.

I asked a journalistic colleague of mine about the winger’s display on Saturday. The response of Chris Phillips – who has been covering Southend United for the Southend Echo for years – was ‘the best opposition player I’ve seen for some time’.

Fans, too, have been quick to lavish praise.

From what I’ve seen so far, I genuinely believe Holmes has the potential to be one of the most exciting arrivals at Scunthorpe United in years.

Against the Shrimpers, he shone. The only goal he didn’t have a hand in was the Iron’s fourth – and no doubt that would have been different had he not been enjoying a well-earned rest on the bench at the time.

He deserved a goal himself for his efforts, particularly that first-half run which saw him weave his way inside and out of some, it must be said, sluggish Southend defending before having a shot beaten away by the visiting keeper.

Holmes has the whole package for someone in his position. He’s quick and possesses some silky skills. But the thing that has made him stand out so far, where many others fail, is that he can also provide the final ball.

On current evidence, it’s hard to understand how he didn’t get more of a chance at Huddersfield. But the fact he only started four matches in two-and-a-half years suggests it will have been virtually impossible for him to find any consistency.

Holmes looks like he can be the Iron’s best out-and-out wide player for some time. Someone to excite and entertain.

His skills bear more than a passing resemblance to those of the legendary Lee Hodges, though Holmes is much quicker out of the blocks.

When he signed and while he was initially getting up to speed (no pun intended), I’ll admit to questioning whether or not the former Terrier would be strong enough to make an impact in what has become an increasingly physical League One.

I’m still not sure we’ve seen enough to fully answer that question, but then you don’t need so much of a physical presence if you’re too quick for your marker.

Holmes’ emergence casts further doubt on Hakeeb Adelakun’s opportunity to realise the undoubted potential he possesses, but has not quite been able to produce with any necessary regularity.

Holmes, sweet Holmes, to use that old cliché, has certainly become one of the first names on the team-sheet. Rightly so.

Another big thing that struck me about last Saturday was the speed at which the Iron turned defence into attack.

The Shrimpers were still (wrongly) appealing for a corner when Luke Daniels rolled the ball out to Holmes who strode forward and Josh Morris – what a signing he’s been too – added another impressive strike to his ever-growing goal tally.

Proof, if ever any was needed, that you don’t have to knock the ball between defenders at a snail’s pace to build from the back. Something we had to endure throughout the first four months of last season.

There’s so much more that’s exciting about this Iron side. Including how far they can go.


Written by ChrisSumpter

Write about sports betting and racing for Press Association. Former Sports Editor of the Scunthorpe Telegraph.

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