Holt is perfect fit as Norwich City role model

Chris Lakey Norwich City 2, Stockport County 1: For a bloke who used to fit tyres for a living, Grant Holt has clearly got to grips with the art of goal-scoring. It's hard to believe that Holt was rejected by Carlisle United as a 15-year-old, that some of his previous managers decided against using him as an out-and-out striker, that he has started just three Championship games in his life and that he had to take one step back - to Shrewsbury last season - to go two steps forward.

Chris Lakey

Norwich City 2, Stockport County 1

For a bloke who used to fit tyres for a living, Grant Holt has clearly got to grips with the art of goal-scoring.

It's hard to believe that Holt was rejected by Carlisle United as a 15-year-old, that some of his previous managers decided against using him as an out-and-out striker, that he has started just three Championship games in his life and that he had to take one step back - to Shrewsbury last season - to go two steps forward.


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When Paul Lambert slipped the captain's armband over his arm last August, no one really knew what City had on their hands. They do now.

Holt racked up his 30th goal in all competitions with the winner against Stockport, but his goal-scoring abilities are the icing on the cake for a man who doesn't know when he's beaten, a man who represents Norwich City Football Club as a genuine ambassador, a man who has embraced all that is good about Carrow Road.

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Did you see his warm-up? He didn't need to remind himself what it feels like to score by aiming pot-shots at Declan Rudd's goal. Instead, he passed it back and forth to a semi-circle of wide-eyed young matchday mascots. The message? “Enjoy your day - I will.”

After three minutes he spotted Anthony McNamee in space on the right wing, so swung a crossfield ball on to the winger's foot and let him do the rest - one lovely clipped shot later City were ahead and ready to fly.

It didn't quite go to plan: Stockport may be heading south for the summer, with only other results preventing them beginning their journey to League Two already, but they showed a quality that suggests the future may be brighter than it feels right now.

Unfortunately for them, Holt doesn't do sympathy, which is part of the reason Norwich are sitting at the top of League One with their nine-point lead intact.

Jabo Ibehre's surprise equaliser on 12 minutes was partly the result of some rustiness by full debutant Zak Whitbread, whose two-month absence from the action was obvious when he allowed Richie Partridge to get the better of him and get in a shot which Declan Rudd did well to block with his legs, only for Ibehre to slot home, despite Adam Drury's best efforts on the line.

It was frustrating for City and for the third biggest Carrow Road crowd of the season, who watched the bottom side pass it around and generally ruin any hopes of a hatful of goals before half-time.

Admittedly Stockport were relying on long-range efforts which kept Rudd alert if not muddied.

Then came another handball decision and another goal - but this time the tables were turned in City's favour.

At Tranmere on Friday, referee Eddie Ilderton awarded a penalty against Darel Russell, when the ball stuck him on the upper arm - the first of a number of questionable decisions.

Referee Fred Graham decided that when McNamee's attempted cross struck Partridge in around the same place, it was also an infringement - and from the resulting free-kick Holt scored what proved to be the winning goal. Whitbread reached it at the far post, Russell, with his back to goal and a crowd forming, saw Holt well placed and slipped it back a yard or two. Captain Holt did the rest.

Holt almost turned provider just before half-time when he broke down the left and put a low cross on to the toe of Chris Martin, who, with Paul Huntington sliding in with a superb tackle, hit the post.

Had that gone in then the floodgates might have opened. Instead, City had to huff and puff and, in the end, hang on a little.

City had so much possession it was embarrassing at times, but more often than not it was being passed across the halfway line. When Stockport did get the ball, Michael Nelson was pretty much equal to everything they could throw his way.

Keeper Owain Fon Williams denied Chris Martin after a good set-up header by Holt just after the hour, and soon after pushed another Martin effort against a post, with Holt denied a follow-up goal by some excellent defending by Danny Swailes. Martin departed soon after, a quick shake of the head suggesting he was either frustrated or annoyed - more likely both.

Stockport had their moments, but not many: Rudd got down well to deny George Donnelly and sub David Poole saw an effort deflected just past a post.

City needed an insurance goal, but as the match moved into time added on and Fon Williams moved forward for a corner, it was the home fans who were calling for the final whistle.

They got their wish, Holt got his - and the Championship inches that little bit closer.

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