Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from the Canaries' 1-1 draw against QPR

Norwich City youngster Daniel Barden replaced the injured Michael McGovern for his Championship debut at half-time against...

Norwich City youngster Daniel Barden replaced the injured Michael McGovern for his Championship debut at half-time against QPR - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Group Football Editor Paddy Davitt delivers his QPR verdict after Norwich City's 1-1 Championship draw.

1. How do you slice that? 

A Norwich game that probably felt like two points dropped, when Bright Osayi-Samuel cancelled out Teemu Pukki's earlier second half penalty, but could feasibly have ended in a second consecutive festive Championship defeat.  

How Osayi-Samuel skies over Albert Adomah’s stoppage time ball deep in the City six yard box only he knows.  

After earning and then rifling home QPR’s own penalty equaliser that would have capped a perfect night for him and a team who arrived in Norfolk without a win in the previous eight. 

That statistic alone would have induced palpable concern in these parts. Recall how winless Derby pitched up at Carrow Road earlier in the season to break their duck.

Todd Cantwell tumbled over Dominic Ball’s challenge to earn the hosts a spot kick.  

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But his disallowed goal really set Daniel Farke’s blood boiling. The City chief was adamant Cantwell was onside when he slotted Pukki’s cut back. It was not to be. Given fresh injury concerns that required a league debut for a teenage keeper, and then a late sting in the tale, this was a night of pure frustration all round.  

2. Furious Farke. Wailing Warburton 

City’s head coach claimed he would earn ‘a record ban’ if he was to publicly take the officials to task for disallowing Cantwell’s close range finish.

Anyone inside the stadium got a flavour of his mood in the immediate aftermath, when presumably after watching back a video replay he bellowed ‘Ref, he was two yards onside’, so forcefully it was probably heard the other side of Riverside. 

Television coverage of the incident appeared to suggest the assistant had raised his flag for, in his view, Cantwell being in front of Pukki at the moment the pass was played. That was certainly Farke's interpretation.

Clearly, it did not wash with Farke. Even if he erred on the side of diplomacy. Just. But given his opposite number, Mark Warburton, used his post-match briefing to lambast the manner the hosts were pressurising the officials all one can state with clarity is referee Langford and his team appear to have dispensed even-handed treatment - in as much as both coaches were left less than impressed. A rare feat.  

3. A night to remember Mr Barden 

No Tim Krul and then Michael McGovern pulls up lame after playing a short pass to Max Aarons just prior to the interval. McGovern was able to finish the half but it was teenage third choice, Daniel Barden, who emerged for his senior league debut for the club. 

Barden was the man who deputised with McGovern and Tim Krul on international duty at Luton Town in the League Cup way back in August. But this was the real thing.

There was a wonderfully composed diagonal long pass to Jacob Sorensen that betrayed any hint of nerves. He also had to make saves from Ball and then tip over a wayward header from Grant Hanley.  

There was no headline grabbing heroics on QPR’s penalty, emphatically despatched by Osayi-Samuel, but given the circumstances it was a night Barden and his family will be hugely proud.

It has been some elevation this season.  

Even travelling to the intervening games since that Luton cup exit just to sit on the first team bench must be proving a real education. The Welsh youth international is clearly highly rated inside the club. You can see why. 

4. Measured McLean 

The Scot was labelled ‘irreplaceable’ by Farke towards the end of the last Premier League season. That may have raised more than an eyebrow among sections of the City support.  

Farke felt McLean was one of the few midfielders at his disposal who had the athleticism, presence and technical skills to make a mark in the top flight. 

There is no doubt the former Aberdeen man has been a key figure under Farke.  

He was certainly the one in pre-season who appeared to be identified as Olly Skipp’s central partner.  

Until perhaps Lukas Rupp staked a serious claim to the posting. 

But Rupp’s on going hamstring issues have opened the door for McLean to start the last four games. This was arguably his most impressive shift yet.  

Willing to receive the ball in deeper areas to build the play, showcasing a range of short and long passing, and showing the ambition to try and make those forward runs Farke is demanding from his midfielders.  

McLean thus far has arguably made more headlines this season for Scotland in their long overdue qualification for a major tournament. One might reasonably expect a few more opportunities now in club colours to impress. 

5. So long 2020. You won’t be missed 

Premier League relegation, fans barred from stadiums for all but a small sample of pilot events. Framed through the prism of a global catastrophe never experienced in modern times before, in terms of its scale and reach.

And no immediate end in sight as the infection rates in the UK appear to spiral and Norfolk finds itself now placed in the highest tier of restrictions around social gatherings.  

Carrow Road provided a soulless, empty backdrop to another game of Championship football. Even with a limp end to the year in recent days, Farke and his squad have engineered a position of strength on the pitch to be in the thick of the promotion scrap. 

Given the manner they exited the Premier League, given the scale of the squad turnover attempted, the negative currents unleashed by the summer transfer window and the fact every game at this level they are seemingly viewed as the hunted it is huge credit to all involved.  

Farke has spoken passionately during this season how football really does not matter when it comes to the health and safety of human beings.

But Norwich fans will long for a day when they can return to a packed Carrow Road. At this rate it might have to wait until (hopefully) they have sealed a swift Premier League return. 


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