No reason to fear the best sides
I think we would all have settled for a point from Saturday’s game if it had been offered before kick-off.
But when the Canaries left the field at the final whistle at Loftus Road, feeling slightly disappointed that they hadn’t taken all three, it not only emphasised that they had given as good as they got against the Championship leaders, but also just how far they have come in such a short space of time.
City have already demonstrated this season that they have the potential to be more than a match for any team in this division if they play to their capability, and they confirmed it against the division’s form team.
True, the Canaries had to weather an early spell of QPR pressure and they were forced to defend their own penalty area on numerous other occasions.
But when Neil Warnock’s men did ask questions of them, be it via the long direct ball into their box or via the incisiveness of Adel Taarabt, City were good enough to be able to show their opponents they had all the answers.
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Leon Barnett and Elliott Ward were as solid as a rock at the back. Indeed, the whole of the City back line and John Ruddy in goal limited the hosts to a minimal goalmouth threat, while in front of them their team-mates all worked incredibly hard at their defensive duties.
But this wasn’t a case of City having to defend for their lives and relying solely on the occasional counter-attack. Far from it. In fact the Canaries looked very lively and dangerous when they moved forward and demonstrated a far more effective pattern to their approach play than did their opponents.
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The combined attacking attributes of Grant Holt, Wes Hoolahan and Simeon Jackson gave the QPR defenders plenty to think about, and City did threaten to become the first side to score against them at Loftus Road this season.
But with clear cut-chances for both sides at a premium, it quickly became clear that one goal might be sufficient to win the game.
Naturally it was Wes Hoolahan who had the best opportunity to settle the contest from the penalty spot, but he surprisingly failed to tuck away the kick with his usual aplomb.
He needn’t beat himself up, though. It happens. And it is as good as guaranteed that Hoolahan will more than compensate for that one miss from 12 yards with plenty of other goals and assists this season.
So it was honours even, which, on reflection, was probably a fair result.
However, Saturday could easily prove to be worth much more to City over the course of the campaign than just the well-deserved point they picked up.
Because if there was even the slightest doubt among anyone beforehand as to precisely what the Canaries are capable of achieving as a team this season, there should not be any more.
• NEIL’S MAN OF THE MATCH – ELLIOTT WARD: All the City players can be pleased with their contributions. In attack, Simeon Jackson impressed by demonstrating good control and turning ability, and also for providing a threat behind the opposition defence with his pace. In midfield, Andrew Crofts simply goes from strength to strength, while at the back Leon Barnett proved so reliable and strong once again. But it’s Barnett’s central defensive partner, Ward, who gets my vote. His positioning was superb, he was regularly first to the ball, and he read the game so well that I lost count of the number of times he was on hand to snuff out danger.