Norwich City 4, Gillingham 1

Grant Holt marked his return to the starting line-up in style with two fine goals as Norwich City booked their place in the Carling Cup second round.

League Two visitors Gillingham took a surprise lead through Chris Palmer after 11 minutes at Carrow Road, but Holt showed delicate touch to set up one goal for Chris Martin and excellent finishing to score two more as the Canaries hit back for a comfortable win.

Martin scored his second in stoppage time to wrap up victory and a ticket to round two.

Holt, last season's leading scorer, played 64 minutes before making way for Oli Johnson to save his energy for Saturday's Championship trip to Scunthorpe.

Holt, starting a match for the first time since picking up a thigh injury, was included in place of former Gills striker Simeon Jackson, not included in the City side as part of a gentleman's agreement with his former club.

Korey Smith replaced the unavailable Andrew Crofts in midfield - with Crofts on international duty with Wales - and Simon Lappin took over from Andrew Surman on the left side of midfield, the third change from the 3-2 Championship home defeat by Watford. Surman was not named in the 18.

Gillingham included new striker Adebayo Akinfenwa, who scored on his debut against Cheltenham in League Two on Saturday after coming off the bench.

Most Read

City began brightly and Chris Martin hooked a shot over in the second minute from Adam Drury's lofted ball into the Gillingham area.

City midfielder Fox was booked in the fifth minute for taking a free-kick too quickly, but when it was retaken, he struck the post with a curling shot.

It was nearly all City in the opening minutes, but there was a shock for them in the 11th minute when Chris Palmer fired Gillingham ahead.

Danny Spiller burst into the penalty area on the left side and was held up by Michael Nelson, who appeared to handle while he was on the floor, but Palmer followed up to strike a first-time shot past 'keeper John Ruddy and inside the post.

Korey Smith had a shot blocked by Josh Gowling as City pushed forward but with 20 minutes gone, visiting 'keeper Alan Julian had not been seriously troubled.

It was very nearly 2-0 in the 24th minute when Spiller curled in a free-kick from the left touchline and Adebayo Akinfenwa headed against the crossbar with Ruddy caught in two minds.

The Canaries drew level two minutes later, however, when Chris Martin scored his first goal of the season.

Holt produced a delightful chip into Martin's path and he escaped the attentions of Mark Bentley to fire past Julian.

Wes Hoolahan was close to giving City the lead when he fired across the face of the goal after David Fox got his head to a corner.

It was soon 2-1, however, when Holt headed his first of the season. Korey Smith sent Russell Martin away on the right and his cross was met with a firm header by Holt.

A foul by Luke Rooney on Simon Lappin gave City a free-kick six minutes before the break and Chris Martin struck the crossbar with the 'keeper beaten.

Akinfenwa missed a golden chance to equalise after 40 minutes when Ruddy made a fine save from Jack Payne's powerful shot but from the rebound, the big striker headed wide of an empty net.

It was Payne's last involvement in the game as he limped off to be replaced by Kevin Maher.

HALF-TIME: Norwich City 2, Gillingham 1

Five minutes after the break, Ruddy had to race from his line to thwart Maher as he moved on to a neat touch from Akinfenwa.

As City hit back, Drury had a shot blocked after good work by Hoolahan.

Holt made it 3-1 after 55 minutes with a beautifully worked goal. Russell Martin, Holt and Hoolahan were all involved and the ball was fed back to Smith, whose cross to the near post was met on the volley by Holt for a fine sidefoot finish.

With 64 minutes gone, two-goal Holt made way for Oli Johnson to a fine ovation from the home crowd.

Ruddy had to make another important save two minutes later when Akinfenwa set up Rooney for a snapshot that the 'keeper did well to get away.

City made a second change with just over 20 minutes left with Matthew Gill replacing Fox.

Gillingham then sent on Stefan Payne in place of Rooney.

Lappin miscued after Chris Martin set up a shooting chance, then Martin came close to scoring his second in the 79th minute. Maher was adjudged to have tripped Hoolahan and Martin curled the free-kick round the wall, but Julian leapt to his left to push the shot away.

Anthony McNamee replaced Hoolahan with just over minutes to go, and Akinfenwa made way for Andy White.

Tony Sinclair earned a booking five minutes from time when he brought down Chris Martin a few yards outside the Gillingham area, but McNamee curled the free-kick wide.

Chris Martin made it 4-1 in stoppage time by tucking the ball home after Johnson got the better of Gowling.

RESULT: Norwich City 4, Gillingham 1