Norwich City 1, Brentford 0

Striker Chris Martin celebrated signing a new three and a half year contract with the goal that took Norwich City to the top of League One in a pulsating battle with Brentford at Carrow Road.

The Canaries had to play the whole of the second half with 10 men after skipper Grant Holt was sent off just before the interval for a challenge on Toumani Diagouraga.

But they secured the victory they needed to overhaul Leeds on goal difference when Martin grabbed his 17th goal of the season, scoring in the 77th minute from the narrowest of angles after excellent work by substitute Oli Johnson.

It was a thrilling end-to-end encounter with the scoreline kept down only by brilliant performances from both goalkeepers, City's Fraser Forster and Brentford's Wojciech Szczesny, on loan from Arsenal.

For the Canaries, it was their 10th successive home league win, equalling the club best of 10 in a row set 24 years ago.

The final whistle was greeted with a tumultuous roar from another near full house.

The only negative for City is the fact that top scorer Holt now faces a three-match ban for his sending-off.

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City boss Paul Lambert was able to name an unchanged side with full-back Adam Drury recovering from the knock on his ankle he suffered in the 5-0 win at Colchester, and the same seven players were on the substitutes' bench.

Brentford were able to renew the loan of 19-year-old goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, from Arsenal, and included another loan signing in their line-up with Peterborough midfielder Toumani Diagouraga making his debut.

Former City striker Carl Cort was among the Brentford substitutes.

The Canaries, unbeaten in 13 league games, were looking for a 10th successive home win to equal the 10 in a row by the 1985-86 Division Two title-winning team.

It was announced before kick-off that striker Martin had signed a new three and a half year contract with the Canaries, taking him up to the summer of 2013.

After a quiet opening, City forced the first flag-kick in the eighth minute, Lappin shooting over the top from Hoolahan's short corner.

With 12 minutes gone, the Canaries twice came close to taking the lead.

First Nelson met Lappin's corner with a firm header that was blocked on the line by Diagouraga, guarding one post.

Then Lappin floated in a fine cross towards Chris Martin, whose looping header brought an excellent save out of Szczesny, leaping high to his left to palm the ball away.

Chris Martin went close again with a tremendous long-range drive that grazed a defender and went out for another corner.

Russell Martin earned a ticking off from referee Rushton for a challenge that caught both Tommy Smith and Dickson on the halfway line

Drury was close to a scoring his first goal for six years when he was denied by another fine save by Szczesny.

Drury made a poor pass from Russell into a good one and Hoolahan teed up Lappin for the perfect cross, Drury getting into the area to meet it with a powerful header, but the 'keeper tipped it over the top with an acrobatic leap.

Doherty headed just off target from the resulting corner by Lappin.

Brentford had a half-chance when Weston's flick put MacDonald in on the byline, but he tried to thread the ball across goal and Forster easily cut it out.

A foul by Russell on Bean gave Brentford a free-kick five yards outside the Norwich area and as O'Connor floated the ball towards the far post, Legge was just unable to make contact.

Persistent work by Dickson earned a corner, but Forster made an excellent one-handed catch from O'Connor's flag-kick.

There were shouts for a penalty when Bean appeared to shove Holt over in the area, but the official was unimpressed and as play continued, Russell Martin dragged a right-foot shot wide of the target.

The Bees were buzzing a little more at this stage and Weston created just enough space for a left-foot shot that brought a smart save out of Forster, standing upright.

Hoolahan showed his trickery to turn Wood inside out more than once in the Brentford area but when he finally parted with the ball, his pass was slightly behind Russell, who lifted his shot over the bar.

Another foul by Russell on Bean earned the City man a yellow card, the first of the afternoon.

From the resulting free-kick, Brentford missed a great chance to go ahead when Tommy Smith headed over the top from O'Connor's well-placed free-kick.

There was a major blow for City five minutes before the break when skipper Holt was shown a straight red card for a needless challenge on Diagouraga on the halfway line.

HALF-TIME: Norwich City 0, Brentford 0

Lambert made a change at the interval, reshuffling his 10 men with Whitbread replacing Russell Martin.

The Canaries were operating with three centre-halves at the back, Drury playing on the left side of a midfield four and Hoolahan supporting Chris Martin in attack.

A free-kick for a foul by Foster on Hoolahan almost led to the opening goal as Nelson headed Lappin's cross back across goal where Drury's header was saved at point-blank range by Szczesny.

Doherty headed a cross from Foster over the top as Brentford counter-attacked.

From the resulting corner by O'Connor, Forster made a great save, diving to his right to keep out Dickson's header.

Chris Martin tested Szczesny again with a stinging drive that the keeper couldn't hold, and then Russell had a shot deflected wide for a corner, Doherty heading over from Lappin's kick.

Despite having 10 men, City were taking the game to Brentford and the crowd were responding to their efforts.

Doherty picked out Chris Martin with an excellent cross but for once the striker's header was misdirected.

With half an hour left, ex-Canary Cort was sent on in place of Diagouraga as Brentford made their first change.

Hoolahan brought Szczesny into action again but his looping effort lacked the power to trouble the 'keeper.

There was an escape for City in the 65th minute when Wood's powerful drive struck the post and when Cort controlled the rebound, he was foiled by another fine save by Forster.

Forster saved again from Bean's header following a cross by Weston as Brentford threatened again.

There were appeals for handball when Legge cut out a cross by Hoolahan after more brilliant work by the Irishman.

With just over 20 minutes left, however, Lambert withdrew Hoolahan and replaced him with Johnson, Hoolahan looking surprised to be the man to make way.

Lappin narrowly cleared the bar with a long-range effort after excellent work by Johnson.

Doherty produced a brilliant block to deny Wood the chance to shoot as the visitors pressed forward again.

But, with 13 minutes left, the Canaries' remarkable 10-man effort was rewarded with Chris Martin's 17th goal of the season.

Substitute Johnson did brilliantly to twist his way into the Brentford area before slipping a pass to Martin, who, despite the narrowest of angles, managed to squeeze a low effort between Szczesny and the near post.

Two minutes later, Lappin fired into the side netting after more excellent work by Johnson.

Forster made yet another brilliant save with seven minutes left to keep out a venomous shot by O'Connor but Weston missed the chance to level the scores when he swept the rebound wide.

In four minutes of stoppage time, Forster saved from Cort's far-post header.

RESULT: Norwich City 1, Brentford 0

Norwich City: Forster; Russell Martin, Doherty, Nelson, Drury; Russell; Korey Smith, Lappin; Hoolahan; Holt, Chris Martin. Subs: Rudd, Whitbread (for Russell Martin, 45), Gill, Hughes, McNamee, Johnson (for Hoolahan, 69), McDonald.

Brentford: Szczesny; Foster, Legge, Tommy Smith, Dickson; Wood; Diagouraga, Bean, O'Connor; Weston, MacDonald. Subs: Price, Phillips, Bennett, Hunt, Bostock, Strevens, Cort (for Diagouraga, 59).

Referee: Steve Rushton (Staffordshire)

Attendance: 24,979

Goals: City: Chris Martin (77)

Red card: City: Holt (40)

Bookings: City: Russell (38), Drury (64), Johnson (85). Brentford: Bean (61), O'Connor (89)