Adel Spurned In Stalemate
ADEL Taarabt missed a penalty as Queens Park Rangers recorded their third home consecutive 0-0 draw and remain firmly rooted to the bottom of the Premier League.
The Moroccan was thwarted by Mark Bunn - who was lucky to remain on the field after fouling Jamie Mackie - as the two sides shared the spoils.
Norwich City pitched up and frustrated the hosts by soaking up home pressure before launching their own threat on the counter-attack and had good chances of their own.
Julio Cesar snuffed out the pick of these chances by saving at point blank range from Grant Holt, before also keeping a Bradley Johnson effort at bay.
Rangers meanwhile laboured without genuine cutting thrust in the front line, even after the introduction of Bobby Zamora, as they face an uphill battle to secure their safety.
Harry Redknapp made four changes from the side that held Manchester City at Loftus Road. Nedum Onuoha, Ryan Nelsen, Esteban Granero and Loic Remy dropped out with Christopher Samba, Andros Townsend, Jamie Mackie and Shaun Wright-Phillips coming in.
Julio Cesar started behind a defence of Fabio da Silva, Samba, Clint Hill and Armand Traoré, with Stephane Mbia and Shaun Derry starting in the heart of midfield. Wright-Phillips, Adel Taarabt and Andros Townsend started just off lone forward Jamie Mackie.
Norwich named an unchanged side from the team that drew against Tottenham Hotspur meaning that Mark Bunn started behind a defence of Russell Martin, Sebastien Bassong, Michael Turner and Javier Garrido.
The midfield comprised of Robert Snodgrass, Alexander Tettey, Bradley Johnson and Anthony Pilkington, with Wes Hoolahan playing off Grant Holt in attack.
KICK OFF: QUEENS PARK RANGERS v NORWICH CITY
The importance of this clash could not be understated. Undefeated in 2013, Queens Park Rangers required wins now to help cap off a fine start to the year. The visit of Norwich City was seen as an ideal opportunity to try and kick start the bid for safety.
The Canaries positive form has started to wane somewhat as they stumbled into the New Year, but a positive point against Tottenham Hotspur at home was somewhat indicative of their upturn in spirits as they headed to W12.
The hosts weren't in the mood to hang around with Adel Taarabt trying his luck from distance, unfortunately with little substance as he sliced his effort into the lower tier. New recruit Andros Townsend looked positive from the off also, getting down the line and putting in a useful cross.
Taarabt tantalised once more approaching the ten minute mark as he drifted to the edge of the area before seeing a powerful drive drift inches wide of the left-hand upright. His strike colleague Jamie Mackie went just as close just moments later.
Receiving the ball in the six yard box with his back to goal, the forward linked with moves away from the club spun and shot just wide of the same left-hand post. Rangers creating opportunities but having little to show for their creativity.
Norwich were now proving less reliant on Grant Holt than has been witnessed previously. The forward rather stifled their flow at times, committing unnecessary fouls and finding himself shrugged off the ball all too easily.
Their main threat lie with Robert Snodgrass and Wes Hoolahan, the twin pistons of the Canaries attacking threat. The pair combined for Snodgrass to nod handsomely into the arms of Cesar - nevertheless a chance of real note for the Canaries.
Holt repeated the feat moments later when he latched onto Garrido's cross to not straight at Cesar once more. The Canaries were looking the more comfortable in possession and were dictating the flow of the encounter, much to the chagrin of the home faithful.
Taarabt rather broke the monotony of the affair by making a keen burst from midfield and supplying Wright-Phillips in the middle. The wide-man did well to take the ball down and work a shooting angle, but his wayward effort did not befit his previous efforts.
Mbia was cautioned for his second foul of the encounter, while Holt continued to go unpunished for his exploits - despite being spotted and penalised by referee Jon Moss. Opportunities being afforded to some and not others it seemed.
In truth there were some efforts of note but very little substance from both side as the first half drew to a close. It appeared at this stage that a solitary goal may be enough to separate what appeared two poor sides.
HALF TIME: QUEENS PARK RANGERS 0-0 NORWICH CITY
The sides came out after the break with the home side in the knowledge that this could prove to be a very important half in the course of their season. An Adel Taarabt free kick nearly had the desired results in the opening stages.
Many times Taarabt had tossed it up to the gigantic Samba to attack. This time his delivery was low and into the six-yard box. It evaded everyone by a mere few inches as Mbia, Mackie and Samba all failed to make contact on the teasing delivery.
Norwich then had a glorious opportunity to open the lead, only to find the inspired Cesar in fine form. Martin found Snodgrass down the right and his testing cross saw Hoolahan beat his marker and the offside trap to see his snap shot ably snuffed out by the Rs 'keeper.
Bobby Zamora was thrown on at the expense of Wright-Phillips with Townsend and Taarabt switching flanks, both looking to come inside onto their stronger foot. Moments later however the home side had a chance gifted to them from the penalty spot.
Some indecisive defending saw Mackie and Townsend pounce, culminating in the ball dropping short of the onrushing Mark Bunn. Mackie stole in, looked to round the 'keeper before being impeded by Bunn. No complaints from the Canaries' stopper as the penalty was given.
Despite being in and around the six yard box, clearly being the last man and taking Mackie down, Mr Moss elected to hand Bunn a yellow card. He must have taken a look at QPR's goalscoring record to decipher for himself that it wasn't a clear goalscoring opportunity.
To rather compound the insulation at present, Taarabt took the ball and took control of the penalty kick. The ground fell silent as the Moroccan stepped forward. His kick was denied by Bunn, low to his left as the scores stayed level.
Taarabt looked to atone for his earlier error as Zamora flicked down neatly for Mackie, who in turn fed the Moroccan. Taarabt tried his luck from distance with a powerful drive, which was too hot to handle for the 'keeper with his defenders clearing away from the onrushing Mackie.
Bradley Johnson was denied by Cesar just after the hour mark when his curling effort was tipped around the upright by the Brazilian international. An indicator that while QPR ploughed forward, there was a soft underbelly waiting to be exploited.
Samba made his presence known in the heart of the area when his directed header was blocked on the line by the ample frame of Grant Holt. Mbia and Fabio were then withdrawn with Jermaine Jenas and Tal Ben Haim coming on in their stead.
It was starting to descend into a frenetic affair, not entirely threatening to be separated due to the lack of quality on display. Townsend cut inside from the right only to fire an effort directly at Bunn. The same player lifted the ball up to the far post for Zamora, who could only find the side netting.
To rather highlight the refereeing display, Mr Moss gave a corner rather brazenly with all the players contented to line up for a goal kick. He was then overruled by his linesman on the other side of the field in a rather embarrassing affair for the official.
Norwich threw on new signing Luciano Becchio for the creative Hoolahan to rather cut dead any aspirations City had of winning the game. Hoolahan proved a persistent threat, but to what extent Becchio would threaten a stubborn rearguard would be open to debate.
The home side continued to press but with little substance. Knock-downs from Zamora were proving fruitless and despite decent overall play from the home side, they had little to show for their efforts in a display riddled with profligacy.
QUEENS PARK RANGERS v NORWICH CITY