Brighton 1, Norwich City 2
SLIDESHOW: League One leaders Norwich City snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with two late goals against struggling Brighton at the Withdean Stadium. With the Canaries trailing 1-0 with 10 minutes left, bloodstained skipper Grant Holt equalised with his 24th goal of the season, from a cross by Wes Hoolahan. Four minutes later, Gary Doherty headed the winner, his seventh goal of the campaign.
League One leaders Norwich City snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with two late goals against struggling Brighton at the Withdean Stadium.
With the Canaries trailing 1-0 with 10 minutes left, bloodstained skipper Grant Holt equalised with his 24th goal of the season, from a cross by Wes Hoolahan.
Four minutes later, Gary Doherty headed the winner, his seventh goal of the campaign.
It was a late, great comeback for Paul Lambert's men, who trailed to a 21st-minute free-kick from Elliott Bennett and were in danger of suffering their second successive defeat.
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With second-placed Leeds drawing at Leyton Orient, City extended their lead at the top to four points.
Skipper Holt returned to the starting line-up after completing a three-match ban.
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Holt replaced Cody McDonald in the one change from the team that started last week's 2-1 defeat at Millwall.
McDonald missed the trip to Brighton with a thigh injury, while defender Zak Whitbread was ruled out by a calf strain he suffered during his brief appearance as a substitute at The New Den. Both players could be sidelined for several weeks.
Michael Spillane returned to the bench for his first involvement in a first team match since the 5-1 home win over Bristol Rovers in early October. Josh Dawkin was also named as one of the substitutes, with Tom Adeyemi omitted from last week's 18.
Brighton gave a debut to new loan signing Kazenga LuaLua, who arrived from Newcastle in midweek.
Korey Smith almost had a shooting chance in the opening minute but was just unable to control the ball as Russell Martin headed Darel Russell's diagonal pass into his path.
Murray blazed wide as Brighton counter-attacked, unable to shake off the attentions of Nelson.
The home side won the first corner after four minutes and Forster punched clear from Bennett's kick before Nelson finally cleared.
Crofts tried his luck from a distance but his shot deflected off Doherty into Forster's hands.
Holt got his head to an 11th-minute cross from Hoolahan but was too far out to get any power into his effort and it did not drop kindly for Chris Martin, arriving in the six-yard box.
LuaLua's promising run into the City area was halted by the combined efforts of Rose and Hoolahan and Forster gathered safely, with the Brighton winger needing attention before returning to the action.
City's first real opportunity came in the 14th minute when Lappin won a midfield challenge on Calderon and sent Chris Martin away on the left in a one-on-one with Kuipers but Martin was unable to take advantage and the keeper blocked his low shot fairly comfortably.
Chris Martin had another shooting opportunity two minutes later and this time the ball ended up in the net, but the goal was disallowed. Martin was sent away after an interception by Hoolahan, but chose to pass to Holt on the right side of the penalty area and when the skipper's cross was tapped into an empty net by Hoolahan, the offside flag went up.
Holt missed a good opening in the 19th minute when he put a free header wide from an excellent cross by left-back Rose, and his reaction summed up his disappointment.
The home side recovered from that spell of pressure to take the lead with a goal from Bennett.
A foul by Russell gave Brighton a free-kick on the left edge of the penalty area and although Bennett did not strike the dead-ball kick with any great power, it crept through the crowd of players in the area and bobbled its way inside Forster's left-hand post.
The hosts were lifted by the goal and Bennett's dangerous cross from the right just eluded his team-mates as they attacked again.
A late challenge by Bennett left Hoolahan in a heap and he was lucky to escape with a lecture from referee Whitestone.
The Canaries won their first corner after 27 minutes and Lappin's kick found Holt, who lifted a cross towards Chris Martin, but Kuipers gathered safely and was fouled by Martin in the process.
On the half-hour there was almost an equaliser for City when Elphick was inches away from heading Chris Martin's cross into his own net, his attempt to clear just shaving the post.
Nelson saved City's skin brilliantly two minutes later, however, when he cleared off the line from Murray. Holroyd reached the byline, leaving Forster in his wake, and pulled back a cross with Murray looking certain to make it 2-0, but Nelson pulled off a marvellous clearance, keeping Murray's shot out as he slid along the line.
t Half-time: Brighton and Hove Albion 1, Norwich City 0
Russell Martin's long-range effort was City's first attempt of the second half, when he volleyed wide within a minute of the restart after Rose's long throw was headed clear.
Another Rose long throw reached Nelson, whose header was blocked, with Hoolahan's follow-up shot also blocked.
Holt suffered a bang in the mouth as he attempted to get on the end of a cross by Rose and was struggling for a moment or two, and he had to leave the field for attention and to change his bloodstained shirt.
Doherty, meanwhile, headed over from a Lappin corner.
Brighton made their first changes on the hour with Dicker and Carole replacing LuaLua and Holroyd.
With 63 minutes gone, Lambert made his first change with McNamee sent on for Smith.
The substitute's first cross was aimed towards the far post but easily gathered by Kuipers.
Hoolahan flashed a header wide from Russell Martin's cross after City worked a neat move by the right corner flag, but Kuipers had not been seriously troubled.
Lappin was shown the first yellow card of the afternoon 20 minutes from time when he was adjudged to have fouled Crofts, though he argued that he got the ball.
Chris Martin almost levelled when Doherty nodded a Russell free-kick into his path but his close-range effort appeared to strike the foot of the post.
Johnson replaced defender Nelson as City reshuffled again with 17 minutes to go.
With a quarter of an hour left to salvage something, another goalline clearance, this time from Lappin, kept City in the game when Forster was beaten by Murray's powerful header.
The importance of that rescue act was underlined when Holt equalised with 10 minutes left with his 24th goal of the season.
From a quickly-taken throw-in, Hoolahan took possession on the left and worked his way into the Brighton area before crossing low into the six-yard box where Holt fired his shot into the roof of the net.
Four minutes later, City turned round the game completely when Doherty put them in front from a free-kick by Russell, rising at the far post to score with a downward header.
Spillane replaced Hoolahan with three minutes left as City looked to make the game safe.
t Result: Brighton and Hove Albion 1, Norwich City 2
t Brighton and Hove Albion: Kuipers; Calderon, Virgo, Elphick, Painter; LuaLua, Navarro, Crofts, Bennett; Murray, Holroyd.
Subs: Brezovan, El-Abd, Dickinson, Hart (for Navarro, 84), Hoyte, Carole (for LuaLua, 61), Dicker (for Holroyd, 61).
t Norwich City: Forster; Russell Martin, Doherty, Nelson, Rose; Russell; Smith, Lappin; Hoolahan; Chris Martin, Holt.
Subs: Rudd, Gill, Spillane (for Hoolahan, 87), Hughes, McNamee (for Smith, 63), Johnson (for Nelson, 73), Dawkin.
t Referee: Dean Whitestone (Northamptonshire)
t Attendance: 7,258
t Goals: Brighton: Bennett (21). Norwich: Holt (80), Doherty (84)
t Bookings: Brighton: Carole (73), Calderon (83) Norwich: Lappin (70), Forster (90)