We'll cope without Holt, says Lambert

Chris LakeyPaul Lambert says losing Grant Holt to suspension won't derail City as they nudge closer and closer to promotion. Another point, another game off the fixture list and City are just half a dozen points away from a return to the Championship.Chris Lakey

Paul Lambert says losing Grant Holt to suspension won't derail City as they nudge closer and closer to promotion.

Another point, another game off the fixture list and City are just half a dozen points away from a return to the Championship.

But they travel to Leyton Orient tomorrow and return to London on Saturday to face one-time leaders Charlton without Holt, who came within around half an hour of wiping his slate clean before the intervention of referee Kevin Friend, who booked him for handball.

But Lambert doesn't believe his absence means capital gains becomes capital losses.


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"It won't - because the lads who will come in will do great," he said.

Lambert was in surprisingly good spirits, given Mr Friend's influence on Saturday's affairs, although Holt's booking was as debatable as a number of other decisions.

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The City man went up for a corner and was clearly off balance when the ball struck his arm.

"He booked him for handball, but he got nudged," said Lambert.

The second Sunday in April is the bookings cut-off point: Holt was on nine for the season going into the game and had he been booked after the deadline he would have escaped with a warning. Instead, the two-game ban is invoked.

The hand of Aaron Wilbraham - sent off in the final minute for a second yellow - was much more in evidence as the MK striker raised his arm as Gary Doherty tried to hook the ball back across the penalty area. The penalty shouts were even backed up by the fourth official, according to Lambert - but Mr Friend was unmoved and City were denied the chance of an earlier equaliser than the one they eventually got, through Chris Martin's brilliant free-kick in the final minute.

Cue the surprise humour break.

"It wouldn't look out of place in the NBA," said Lambert. "Michael Jordan couldn't do any better than that. His hand was about nine feet up in the air - incredible. How he has not seen that.

"The fourth official said it was - he said from where we were standing it was a penalty, and it was. Everybody in the ground saw it. The only thing he never did was catch it."

When the dust had settled, City finished the day eight points clear of second-placed Millwall and nine ahead of Leeds - with five to play.

"We know what we have to do, we are nearly there and it keeps it going," said Lambert. "I am absolutely delighted to be honest, I couldn't ask for any more."

MK went ahead against the run of play on 20 minutes when Wilbraham scored from close range, but Martin had a goal disallowed for a foul on keeper Willy Geuret, who produces a string of good saves as City dominated possession.

"I thought we were excellent, I really did," said Lambert. "I thought we started the game really well. The goalkeeper made some terrific saves, and then we got caught with the goal, but second half I thought we were excellent.

"I just always think something will happen with the type of lads we've got. It was a terrific free-kick."

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