Norwich City 2, Millwall 0

David Cuffley SLIDESHOW: Wes Hoolahan took a starring role again as Norwich City chalked up their eight successive League One home victory in front of a Boxing Day full house. The Irishman scored his 13th goal of the season in the opening half then supplied the cross for skipper Grant Holt to head his 20th of the campaign, all in front of Carrow Road's biggest crowd of the season.

David Cuffley

Wes Hoolahan took a starring role again as Norwich City chalked up their eighth successive League One home victory in front of a Boxing Day full house.

The Irishman scored his 13th goal of the season in the opening half then, after the break, supplied the cross for skipper Grant Holt to head his 20th of the campaign, all in front of Carrow Road's biggest crowd of the season.

Millwall began the brighter of the two sides, but City had already had one goal disallowed when Hoolahan fired them ahead from Jon Otsemobor's cross in the 28th minute.

Chris Martin and Hoolahan then combined to set up Holt to make it 2-0 in the 68th minute.

With nine-man Charlton needing a very late equalizer to draw 2-2 at home to Swindon, the Canaries closed the gap on the second-placed Londoners to just two points at the halfway stage of the season.

Most Read

Leaders Leeds beat Hartlepool 3-1 at home and are six points clear of Charlton and still eight ahead of Norwich with a game in hand on both sides.

City have now been beaten just once in the last 16 league games, and eight home wins in a row is their best run at Carrow Road since the start of the 2003-04 season, when Nigel Worthington's team won the first eight at home and went on to win the Nationwide League Division One title.

The only negative from victory over Millwall was the loss of midfielder Darel Russell at half-time with a hamstring strain, while Stephen Hughes was substituted after an hour after feeling the effects of a calf problem.

Jon Otsemobor was recalled to manager Paul Lambert's starting line-up against the Lions because of defender Gary Doherty's one-match suspension, while Hughes was preferred to Tom Adeyemi in midfield after an impressive second-half performance in the 3-0 win over Huddersfield.

Korey Smith (thigh strain) and Jens Berthel Askou (foot injury) were among those still sidelined.

Millwall were able to include Jimmy Abdou in midfield after the red card he received at Charlton last week was rescinded by the FA, but David Martin and Jack Smith were both ruled out by suspension.

City began with Otsemobor at right-back and Russell Martin alongside Nelson in the centre of defence, with the goalkeeper and back four all looking into the sun.

Forster was tested in the first minute when Schofield found an alarming amount of room from Morison's pass and let fly with a left-foot shot that the 'keeper beat away.

There was an early lecture for City skipper Holt and Millwall defender Craig, wearing a protective mask, after they clashed going for a header.

Grabban volleyed over the top as Millwall continued to enjoy the better of the opening exchanges and the Canaries looked ill at ease at the back.

Hesitation by Hughes, trying to let the ball run out for a goal kick, enabled Schofield to set up Fuseini for a shot at goal but he fired over the top.

City's first corner, after 21 minutes, almost provided the breakthrough, however. Holt's header from Lappin's kick was blocked but Hoolahan followed up with a powerful left-foot shot, only to be denied by a fine save at point-blank range by goalkeeper Forde.

City thought they had taken the lead in the 25th minute when Russell sent Chris Martin away on the right and he cut inside on to his left foot and struck a superb drive that flew into the roof of the net, but it appeared to get a deflection off Russell on the way in - and the midfielder, getting the final touch, was in an offside position.

The goal did come, however, in the 28th minute with Hoolahan scoring his 13th of the season. Otsemobor did well to get a low cross from the right into a busy penalty area, where Hoolahan struck a left-foot, sidefoot effort past Forde.

A bad pass towards his own goal by Otsemobor caused problems for City as Morison escaped from Nelson and headed for goal, but Russell Martin did splendidly to chase back and slide the ball away from the Millwall striker.

Three minutes before the break, Laird needed treatment after a clash of heads with Hughes, but was able to continue.

In the final minute of the half, Craig fouled Holt and Hoolahan, from almost the halfway line, tried to beat Forde with a quickly-taken free-kick but his effort drifted wide.

t Half-time: Norwich City 1, Millwall 0

There was a change at the start of the second half for the Canaries, Gill replacing Russell at the base of the midfield diamond.

Early in the half, Millwall right-back Dunne was forced to change his shirt after bleeding from a slight cut, and reappeared wearing the number 50.

Nelson headed over from Lappin's free-kick after Holt had been brought down clumsily by Laird, but it was a quieter start to the second half.

Schofield tried his luck for Millwall from outside the penalty area but his effort lacked power, then Grabban had a shot blocked by Nelson.

On the hour, Holt nodded down Drury's free-kick into the path of Hughes, but the bounce meant he was unable to get any force behind his effort.

City made a second change with nearly half an hour left when Adeyemi replaced Hughes.

Fuseini let fly from long range as Millwall pushed forward, but was well wide.

There were ironic cheers when referee Salisbury booked Dunne for a foul on Holt.

The City skipper was celebrating after 68 minutes, however, when he scored his 20th goal of the season in a superb collaboration between the front three players.

Chris Martin did well to find Hoolahan on the left side of the penalty area and he delivered a perfectly-judged cross into the path of Holt, giving him the fairly simple task of heading home with Forde beaten.

Millwall made a double change by introducing Price and Bolder but City threatened a third.

Nelson then had the ball in the net, sliding in at full stretch from Chris Martin's cross, but he was adjudged offside.

Price was just away from getting a touch to Morison's knock-down, and Millwall made another change when Barron replaced Frampton at left-back.

City made their final change with five minutes left when Hoolahan left to a standing ovation, to be replaced by McNamee.

t Result: Norwich City 2, Millwall 0

t Norwich City: Forster; Otsemobor, Russell Martin, Nelson, Drury; Russell; Hughes, Lappin; Hoolahan; Holt, Chris Martin.

Subs: Steer, McDonald, Kelly, Adeyemi (for Hughes, 61), Gill (for Russell, 45), McNamee (for Hoolahan, 85), Dawkin.

t Millwall: Forde; Dunne, Robinson, Craig, Frampton; Grabban , Abdou, Fuseini, Laird, Schofield; Morison.

Subs: Sullivan, Barron (for Frampton, 77), Hackett, Bolder (for Fuseini, 70), Ward, Price (for Grabban, 70), Grimes.

t Referee: Graham Salisbury (Lancashire)

t Attendance: 25, 242

Goals: Norwich: Hoolahan (28), Holt (68)

Bookings: Millwall (Dunne, 65)