Norwich City boss Lambert hails captain fantastic

David Cuffley Manager Paul Lambert paid tribute to skipper Grant Holt as he marked his return to the Norwich City starting line-up in style with two fine goals to help book his side a place in the next round of the Carling Cup.

David Cuffley

Manager Paul Lambert paid tribute to skipper Grant Holt as he marked his return to the Norwich City starting line-up in style with two fine goals to help book his side a place in the next round of the Carling Cup.

Chris Martin and fellow striker Holt each scored twice in last night's 4-1 victory over Gillingham at Carrow Road to put the Canaries into tonight's second round draw.

The League Two visitors took a surprise lead through Chris Palmer after 11 minutes, but Holt showed delicate touch to set up one goal for Martin and excellent finishing to score two more before Martin scored his second in stoppage time to wrap up victory.


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

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

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“Grant hasn't played much football, but I am sure that will do his confidence the world of good, and our football was good as well,” said Lambert, who admitted he could not expect his captain to play 90 minutes last night.

“You have to try to get the balance right, and he feels OK. That will do him the world of good, being able to last that long, plus getting two terrific goals.

“We have hit the woodwork twice and the goalkeeper has made some great saves from Chrissy Martin. I am delighted to win the game and to get a win.

“Any football game you play you have to try to win it and we did it. Some of our attacking play is terrific at the minute. Any competition you want to try to win or try to go as far as you can and it's no different with this one.

“I'm delighted to get into the next round.”

Lambert made only three changes to the team beaten 3-2 by Watford in Friday's Championship opener, and kept faith with his goalkeeper and back four despite the defeat.

He said: “They were definitely a lot stronger, that's for sure. I think there were a lot of things that went wrong on Friday night that looking back I should have stopped, but it happened and they deserved another chance to go again and I am delighted with the response.”

There were two changes in midfield, where Korey Smith and Simon Lappin replaced Andrew Crofts, on international duty with Wales against Luxembourg tonight, and Andrew Surman.

“I was always going to change the team - not many but I was always going to change one or two,” said Lambert.

“Korey was terrific tonight for the spell he's been out, his first game. He's certainly progressing really well. Andrew Surman got a knock in training but I wouldn't have started him anyway.”

A crowd of more than 13,000 watched the tie and Lambert was determined to avoid another home setback.

He said: “We never took it lightly - it is hard because the expectancy level is always here. No disrespect to Gillingham - they can come and enjoy it, nice pitch, nice stadium, and us getting beaten on Friday. They have everything going for them, nothing to lose, because nobody expects it. The league as everybody knows is the main one. We have another hard game on Saturday but definitely this will boost everybody.”

Championship sides Barnsley, Bristol City, Coventry, Derby, Doncaster, Nottingham Forest and Queens Park Rangers all went out in the first round last night, while Ipswich needed extra time to beat Exeter 3-2.

t The Carling Cup second round draw will be shown on Sky Sports News after tonight's three first round ties are completed, with the Canaries unlikely to be seeded.

Seeded: Everton, Birmingham, Blackburn, Stoke, Fulham, Sunderland, Bolton, Wolves, Wigan, West Ham, Newcastle, West Bromwich, Blackpool, Burnley, Hull, Portsmouth, Leicester, Swansea, Middlesbrough, Ipswich, Watford, Preston, Cardiff, Sheffield United, Reading.

Unseeded: Leeds, Millwall, Sheffield Wednesday, Peterborough, Huddersfield, Southampton, Colchester, Brentford, MK Dons, Rochdale, Bradford, Crewe, Accrington Stanley, Morecambe, Northampton, Oxford, Notts County, Port Vale, Shrewsbury, Southend, Leyton Orient, Tranmere, Scunthorpe, Crystal Palace, Norwich.

t Cardiff, Sheffield United and Reading will be seeded if they win tonight's first round ties against Burton, Hartlepool and Torquay, respectively. If they lose, Scunthorpe, Crystal Palace and Norwich are likely to replace them as seeds.

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