PAUL Lambert’s on-song Canaries lashed four goals in a half for the second game running to demolish the challenge of high-flying Bristol Rovers at Carrow Road.
Following Tuesday night’s scoring blitz in the last 15 minutes to end the resistance of Leyton Orient, it was four goals inside the opening 45 minutes that stunned a previously in-form Pirates side this time round.
Grant Holt (2), Chris Martin and Wes Hoolahan from the penalty spot did the damage in a scintillating first half – and Jamie Cureton, for the second time in consecutive games, came off the bench to score in second-half injury time against his former club to make the final score 5-1.
Chris Martin justified Lambert’s decision to give him a starting role by slamming home a 25-yard free-kick for his second goal in consecutive games after only nine minutes.
Rovers were handed a way back into the match in the 26th minute when Jens Berthel Askou was controversially adjudged to have fouled Chris Dickson in the box and Jeff Hughes rammed home the resulting spot-kick.
But the balance of power swung back in the Canaries’ favour when referee Andy Hall pointed to the spot again just five minutes later – this time deciding Wes Hoolahan was illegally impeded in the area by Byron Anthony. Hoolahan made no mistake from the spot and City were ahead again.
In the 33rd minute they were 3-1 up as Simon Lappin’s corner was deflected to Grant Holt waiting to pounce at the far post – and the Canaries’ leading scorer gleefully swept the ball home from the edge of the six-yard box.
Holt was on the scoresheet again five minutes before half-time, bulldozing his way through the Rovers defence brilliantly before firing home his ninth of the season into the far corner.
Play was more even in the second half, although Holt was perhaps unfortunate not to be awarded another penalty for City immediately after the break when he was bundled over by Byron Anthony only for the ref to rule the foul had taken place inches outside the area.
City remained in control throughout the second half, with further chances for Martin, Holt and Smith right at the death.
The icing on the cake came in injury time, when after some superb footwork in the box the excellent Hoolahan slid the ball across the face of goal and substitute Jamie Cureton blasted home his second in two matches.
The only sour note on a good day for City was what looked like a worrying hamstring injury to Michael Spillane and another knock to Grant Holt which saw him leave to a standing ovation in the closing stages.
After the match City boss Paul Lambert told canaries.co.uk he was delighted with the performance of both his players and the fans on another good day at the Carrow Road office:
“The lads were brilliant. The way they are playing at the minute, and to score five, they are certainly playing at the top of their game.
“I think you saw in the Charlton game that even adversity the lads have got belief – I think they’ve got that in abundance at the minute. Considering where we were when we first came it’s been excellent but the lads are the ones who have turned it around and they deserve the credit. The supporters and the players have been magnificent.”
Lambert was particularly pleased that after Rovers were handed a controversial equaliser, the City players and fans continued to keep the pressure on:
“It’s important after conceding to go up and try to score as quickly as possible and we did that, pushed on by the supporters. Once again I have to say I thought they were phenomenal today, the way they got behind us.”
Grant Holt’s second goal was arguably the pick of the bunch for City and his manager was quick to praise his top scorer: “I’ve said before that what he may lack in finesse he makes up for with numerous other qualities and he’s an absolute handful. His performances have been top quality.”
Holt and Spillane both left the field nursing injuries, with Spillane’s possibly looking the more serious of the two as the youngster hobbled off clutching his hamstring.
Lambert said: “Grant took a knock to his calf or his shin. I know we’ve got a game at Gillingham on Tuesday so we’ll see how he is and he might get a rest then. Micky’s pulled his hamstring so we’ll just to find out how bad it is. We might have to go and get one of the kids out of the youth team but we will see.”
Source: Norwich City
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