Lambert heaps praise on captain fantastic Holt

David Cuffley City boss Paul Lambert paid tribute to skipper Grant Holt after the striker's stoppage-time goal earned a 2-2 draw and nudged visitors Charlton off the top of League One.

David Cuffley

City boss Paul Lambert paid tribute to skipper Grant Holt after the striker's stoppage-time goal earned a 2-2 draw and nudged visitors Charlton off the top of League One.

Holt's sixth goal of the season completed a fine fightback from 2-0 down for the Canaries, after the recalled Wes Hoolahan scored from the captain's quick throw-in just before half-time.

Lambert said of Holt: “I thought he was a handful the whole game.


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“I thought him and Hoolahan were excellent, and Darel Russell coming back - Darel hasn't trained, hasn't really kicked a ball in earnest due to his calf but I thought he was exceptional. Hoolahan coming in was absolutely top-class and Grant was as robust as anything. He is a handful to play against, that's for sure.

“He was brilliant. He might not be the greatest player, finesse wise, but I'll tell you what, for workrate and an ethic and hunger and desire, I would rather have him in the side than not. Fantastic.”

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It was a game with its share of controversy, including Charlton protests that Holt had fouled goalkeeper Rob Elliot in heading the equaliser.

“You see it a million times, the decision normally goes for the goalkeeper but I think Grant got there first. I'd have to see it again, but Grant looks as if he got there,” said Lambert.

The other main flashpoint came just before half-time when Charlton skipper Nicky Bailey kicked Holt from behind, but escaped with a lecture and not even a yellow card.

“The thing is, Jens (Askou) is getting booked for a shoulder charge,” said Lambert. “All you're looking for is to be consistent. If he'd never booked Jens and never booked the lad there, I wouldn't have bothered. It's not a red card, but if he is booking Jens you are looking for them to be consistent.”

Lambert was delighted with City's showing, even though it leaves them in 14th place in the table, 13 points behind new leaders Leeds.

He said: “We started the game brilliantly and I don't think we deserved to go a goal down against a really good side. To go 2-0 down against them was tough but I thought the lads were terrific, really brilliant. Since I've been here, the effort and the workrate has been absolutely terrific and today's performance, I thought, was colossal.”

The one disappointment was the fact that City conceded two goals from headers, the first from a corner.

He said: “My pet hate is losing a goal from a corner or a free-kick, because if you're a defender you've chosen to play the position, you stick your head on it.

“If you cut it open, I'll run on and stitch it myself. I just want you to head it. So if you can do that you'll be fine with me.

“And the second goal was poor. We didn't stop the cross, Jon (Otsemobor) got outmuscled by the two of them, but in the cold light of day he's been excellent for me. He's been done on two headers but he's been excellent.”

A further worry is the absence of central defender Michael Nelson (ankle injury) and Scottish midfielder Stephen Hughes (Achilles).

“Michael will be out for a few more weeks, I think, even though he's feeling better,” said Lambert.

“Stephen has damaged a nerve in his heel so he can't feel his foot at the minute. I just hope that nerve will heal.”

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