Holt hails Nelson's heroics

Chris LakeyGrant Holt's goals have played a major part in Norwich City's rise to the top of the League One pile, but the City marksman was quick to pay tribute to the player who has stolen the scoring honours in the last two games.Chris Lakey

Grant Holt's goals have played a major part in Norwich City's rise to the top of the League One pile, but the City marksman was quick to pay tribute to the player who has stolen the scoring honours in the last two games.

Michael Nelson's goal at Charlton clinched promotion, and his header against Gillingham sealed the title after Darel Russell's exquisite opener.

Nelson is an unlikely scoring hero, given that that his only previous effort this season was against his old club Hartlepool, when he scored a spectacular overhead kick in Paul Lambert's first away win as City boss.

But Holt - who has scored more goals from open play than anyone else in League One this season - says the central-half deserves every plaudit that comes his way.

"He's an unsung hero," said the City skipper. "He heads it, he kicks it and people sometimes don't realise and they get on his back a little that he doesn't keep the ball, but he's playing on the left-hand side and he's a right-footed centre-half.

"But I'd say in the last three or four months he's probably been the most solid performer we've had and he's doesn't really get the plaudits.

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"Today he had Rene Howe and (Dennis) Oli, a handful up front, and I think he probably won 95pc of his headers, and he deserves this. He's a great lad and it was fantastic to see him get the goal last week and get the goal today."

Nelson's goals mean Holt will pick up the League Trophy and parade it around Carrow Road on the final day of the season - in front of the fans who gave him a deserved standing ovation when he was subbed five minutes from time on Saturday, a chance to soak up the fans' recognition of a special feat this season.

"I said to Cully (Ian Culverhouse) I wish he'd waited till I was on the other side of the pitch," said Holt. "It's great. I've enjoyed my time here at the football club and it's an absolute honour to be captain of this football club and to lift the trophy too will be absolutely amazing.

"It's been a long time coming. We've been waiting for it to come and now we've actually done it probably the realisation will kick in this week that we're going to do it and I can't wait to get my hands on it and get us back in the Championship.

"It's been a long slog, it's been hard, we've been to some tough grounds and teams that have come here and sat in and tribute to the lads in there, they've been absolutely fantastic every game.

"You see today a performance which wasn't great. I thought we were a bit sloppy on the ball, but we dug in again - that's how we've done it all year. We've dug in, backs against the wall we've come out fighting and today we've got another 2-0 win and it's absolutely fantastic to top it off to win the league.

"We didn't want to bow, we didn't want people to do us any favours, the likes of Leeds losing, we wanted to do it off our own bat. We knew obviously the fans would come for a party and we tried to get our heads around it a little bit and realise that we hadn't done it, it wasn't mathematically done it. We were a bit edgy first half, but I'm sure the fans will go away absolutely delighted, like all the lads are in there."

The battle is now on for second, with Leeds hoping to avoid a fourth season in League One. Millwall, Swindon, Charlton and Huddersfield are all guaranteed at least a play-off place - but Southampton's late, late effort to try and overcome their 10-point deduction, ended in failure.

"This league's a tough league and I think people don't give it as much respect as it really deserves," said Holt. "It's not easy. You look at Leeds - they've been in it a lot of seasons now. And Forest, they came down, and Sheffield Wednesday, it took them a while.

"It's not easy and to bounce back at the first attempt we're absolutely delighted and I think it's more relief in there and more enjoyment that we have actually got the job done.

"The manager, a few games ago, when we played at home to Southampton, said, 'do you want to win the league?' and we bounced back and it's great for him today.

"Unfortunately he was in the stands seeing it, but I'm sure he will enjoy the next two weeks."