Norwich City to appeal after ref’s ‘horror’ show

Norwich City face an anxious wait to discover whether striker Grant Holt will miss three crunch games following his controversial red card in the 3-3 Championship draw at Reading.

Manager Paul Lambert was furious at referee Michael Oliver’s decision to send off his skipper for a challenge on defender Ian Harte in the final minute of the first half at the Madejski Stadium, an incident that transformed the game when the Canaries were leading 3-1.

Lambert, who later described the referee’s performance as an “absolute horror” was sent to the stands in the closing minutes of the televised encounter after leaving his technical area to check on the injured Korey Smith, but it is Holt’s potential absence for successive home games against Leeds next Saturday and Ipswich on November 28, plus the trip to Derby on December 4, that will cause most concern.

The City boss said they were likely to appeal against Holt’s dismissal, which he described as “ludicrous, an absolutely shocking decision”.

He said: “I’ve seen it loads of times, I saw it at half-time. It’s not on the borderline, it’s absolutely shocking.

“It’s maybe a foul, but never a sending-off – pathetic.”

Lambert questioned whether the 25-year-old Oliver, from Northumberland – who in August became the youngest referee to take control of a Premier League match – was experienced enough for the occasion.

Most Read

“If you are going to give us a referee, make sure you give us one that’s experienced enough to do the job. The game is too big, far, far too big. We are not guinea pigs to anybody,” he said.

“I take it that’s the referee that makes that many gaffes and still keeps doing the job, which is incredible.

“If you’re not good enough to do it, don’t do it. The game’s too big for decisions like that.

“It’s not just in our game – I have seen games where he has done it before.”

Lambert insisted he did not know the reason for his own dismissal, which came after Smith was tackled by Jem Karacan.

“I went down to see if Korey was all right because his knee was sore,” he said. “I never said a word, never did anything wrong, just went down there to make sure he was OK.

“I asked the referee what I was getting sent off for and he said ‘I’ll tell you later’, so I must be going to have a drink with him. I would love to know what I’m being sent off for – I’m sure he will be making that up.”

Last season, Lambert was sent to the stands during City’s 3-1 defeat at Tranmere. He was later fined �1,000 and given a one-match touchline ban after comments he made to referee Eddie Ilderton in that Good Friday game.

Holt was also banned for three games last season after being sent off against Brentford.

City have had mixed fortunes with their appeals against red cards. Two seasons ago, Gary Doherty’s sending-off in the 2-1 home defeat by Bristol City was rescinded – but they failed to overturn Darel Russell’s dismissal in the 2-0 home defeat by Southampton last season.

The incidents overshadowed an excellent first-half display by the Canaries as goals from Russell Martin, Holt and Chris Martin gave them their interval advantage.

“It was top drawer,” said Lambert, who barred his players from speaking to the Press after the match.

“Brilliant. Terrific finish (by Holt), Chrissy’s free-kick – he always hits the target - and Russell Martin’s I thought was excellent. But the referee will get the headlines for an absolute horror. We were brilliant, we really were first class against a team that’s really good, a team that had a good result against Cardiff in midweek – but we could have been playing here until the year 2020 and we still wouldn’t get a decision.

“Grant with Chrissy, I thought the two of them were unplayable at times. They were excellent. The players are disappointed, but there is no need to be for what they have done. I am absolutely delighted with them, the way they performed, kept on going, threw their bodies on the line, a great desire.”