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23:20 15th April 2011


SUPER skipper Grant Holt shrugged off his injury to grab a goal and an assist as City battled back from behind to win a thrilling encounter against Nottingham Forest in front of the Sky TV cameras at Carrow Road.

Nathan Tyson put the visitors ahead with a freakish opener after only three minutes when John Ruddy's attempted clearance hit the Forest forward and then spun agonisingly across the area and into the City net.

But Grant Holt brought the Canaries level just seven minutes later leaping high to head home a David Fox free-kick and raise the roof at Carrow Road.

Good chances were being created by both sides but it was City that took a half-time lead - Andrew Surman being put in by his skipper before excellently pulling the trigger past former Canary loanee Lee Camp in the Forest goal.

With a goalless second period Surman's effort was enough to seal the win for the Canaries - a victory that put City back into second in the npower Championship table with their closest promotion rivals all in action over the weekend.

City boss Paul Lambert commented: "That was massive. That was a massive, massive win considering the fatigue that was there in playing Saturday, Tuesday and Friday which is a lot to ask of any footballer. The fatigue was there, but what desire to win a football match.

"Their goal is unfortunate, and those things happen rarely in football but when they do happen it's a sore one to take especially that early in the game, because I think Nottingham Forest are a very, very dangerous side." 

On the inclusion of his captain who had been a big doubt before the game, he said: "I knew Grant was available at about 10am this morning. I thought he was brilliant I really did, I thought the goal was a terrific header and leading the line and his build up play was excellent."

Before the game there was a major boost for Canary fans with the unexpected news that both skipper Grant Holt and playmaker Wes Hoolahan had made the starting line-up after a week of intense speculation about their fitness.

But after a 100 miles per hour start with both teams chasing every loose ball it was Forest who benefitted from a freak goal to take the lead after only three minutes.

A long ball was played down the channel on Forest's right but there seemed little danger as Ruddy advanced towards the edge of his area to clear. Unfortunately he underestimated the speed of Forest forward Nathan Tyson and his clearance from inside his area struck the leaping Tyson and spun freakishly into the empty net.

It was a blow to City but they responded in typical fashion with a gutsy fightback, harrying Forest at every opportunity and looking to hit back swiftly.

Just seven minutes later they did just that as Hoolahan was up-ended on the right touchline to earn City a free-kick. David Fox stepped up to swing in a perfectly-placed cross and there was Holt to power home a header into the corner.

In the 19th minute Forest free-kick specialist McGugan hit a setpiece effort just over the bar and a minute or so later Maloney tried his luck with a low drive but dragged it narrowly wide of the near post.

A pulsating start to the game continued as Surman threatened at the other end, his clever chip falling narrowly wide of the far post in the 20th minute.

In the 25th minute neat skill from McGugan saw him through into the area on the left-hand side but his angled effort was cleared off the line by Zak Whitbread.

Back came City and though Hoolahan appeared to be fouled near the halfway line he still managed to loop a great pass over the last man and into space for Jackson to run on to - and though the Canadian managed to lift the ball up in an attempt to lob the advancing Lee Camp, the former Canary loanee made a good save.

Forest were a constant threat and were inches away from taking the lead when the ball was laid back to Moussi 15 yards out but his side-footed effort cannoned off the post and away to safety.

In the 34th minute Carrow Road erupted as Jackson ended a great City move with a neat finish - but his effort was ruled out for a close offside call by the officials.

Just three minutes later though there was no flag to save Forest despite their appeals as the Canaries edged in front thanks to a well-worked second goal, Holt sliding in a good pass to Surman to finish coolly from 16 yards.

Forest countered strongly and Tierney had to be alert to make a great last-ditch tackle to deny Moussi in the six-yard box as a frantic first half continued.

In first-half injury time the visitors made the first change of the game, Marcus Tudgay coming on to replace Kris Boyd, who had been struggling to shake off the effects of a knock.

Half-time: Norwich City 2, Nottingham Forest 1

The Canaries were attacking the Barclay in the second half and made a positive start, Holt finding Surman in the box only for the former Wolves man to fire wide after a beautiful touch to set himself up.

A couple of minutes later Jackson battled well to win the ball on the right-hand side of the box before firing in a powerful low drive which forced Camp into a smart save at his near post.

On the hour Lambert made his first change of the night, Henri Lansbury replacing David Fox in the City midfield.

In the 69th minute after a tense but even period McGugan tried an ambitious effort from 30-plus yards which flew over Ruddy's crossbar, the Norwich 'keeper watching it all the way.

Four minutes later an excellent cross from Konchesky was scrambled away by Whitbread and Tyson on the follow-up skied the rebound well over. Then Forest made a substitution, former Canary Robert Earnshaw replacing Tyson as the visitors looked for the equaliser.

City responded with a change of their own in the 77th minute, Wes Hoolahan getting a deserved standing ovation after working tirelessly on his return from injury as he was replaced by Simon Lappin.

Norwich went close twice in the space of a minute with ten minutes to go, first Ward's flick-on from Lansbury's corner a whisker away from being met by the head of the on-rushing Holt and then Jackson's glancing header from Crofts' ball flashing wide of the far post.

As the game approached a tense climax the Canaries nearly gave themselves breathing space as they went close twice in the 88th minute, first Holt's determined run only denied by a great tackle from Maloney and then in the next attack Jackson slamming a low drive against the base of the post.

City made their final change in the last minute of normal time, Rob Edwards replacing the tireless Simeon Jackson, who rightly received a standing ovation for his contribution.

Then in injury time Forest left-back Paul Konchesky was shown a second yellow card for scything down Andrew Surman on the right touchline.

Full-time: Norwich City 2, Nottingham Forest 1

    Data provided by Press Association


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