QUEENS Park Rangers were left to rue Adel Taarabt’s second half penalty miss as they recorded their second successive 0-0 draw at Loftus Road this afternoon.
Norwich City keeper Mark Bunn saved the Moroccan’s spot kick in the 56th minute after the stopper had upended Jamie Mackie in the 18-yard box.
And try as they might to find a winner Harry Redknapp’s side was forced to settle for another point.
Rangers handed debuts to centre-back Christopher Samba and midfielder Andros Townsend whilst Jamie Mackie shrugged off a back injury and tonsillitis to start. Meanwhile, Loic Remy and Nedum Onouha missed out through injury.
Four minutes in and a Robert Snodgrass cross from the right saw Wes Hoolahan turn the ball over the bar from six-yards before six-minutes later Adel Taarabt went close for the home side. The Moroccan showed good strength to hold off two challenges before firing inches wide of the post from the edge of the box.
Soon after Taarabt turned provider jigging his way into the Norwich penalty area before picking out Jamie Mackie. With his back to goal 8-yards out he was forced wide by his marker before scuffing his shot wide of the far post on the turn.
Julio Cesar was required to make his first save of the afternoon in the 28th minute when Hoolahan made the most of a loose ball to pick out Snodgrass unmarked in the Rangers box; but his tame header found its way comfortably back into Cesar’s arms.
The same routine for Norwich, this time from the left, saw Javier Garrido pick out Grant Holt but his header from 10-yards failed to test custodian Cesar.
Adel Taarabt picked out Shaun Wright-Phillips on the edge of the visitors penalty box ten minutes before half-time. The diminutive winger had his back to goal and was under pressure from Garrido; but despite that he managed to turn his marker before firing wide from distance.
And it was Taarabt again who continued to be the R’s biggest threat when just before half-time he struck the top of the bar from his corner kick with Bunn sprawling to get back across the Canaries goal.
After the restart an inviting ball into the Canaries six-yard box from Taarabt’s right wing free-kick evaded the lunge of Mbia and then the diving head of Samba at the back post - a touch would surely have resulted in QPR taking the lead.
Cesar then made a, what are now becoming trademark, reflex save to keep the score level. Martin played in Snodgrass out wide and the former Leeds winger picked out Hoolahan – who did well to beat the offside trap – before guiding the ball towards goal. However, Cesar got down brilliantly to save.
Rangers were then handed a penalty and a chance to take the lead. Play switched up to the other end and a ball into the Canaries box saw keeper Bunn haul down Mackie inside the box. Referee Jon Moss pointed straight to the spot and Bunn was cautioned for his offence. Taarabt was tasked with penalty duties for the R’s and with Loftus Road crowd falling silent Bunn guessed the right way – diving to his left – and pushing Taarabt’s spot kick from 12-yards away. QPR’s number 10 was left holding his face in his hands.
As he attempted to make up for his earlier miss Taarabt then forced Bunn to push around the post for a corner after substitute Bobby Zamora flicked on for Mackie who in turn laid in Taarabt from distance. Cesar at the other end was called upon to palm a long range shot from Bradley Johnson out for a corner as Norwich looked for an opener.
Christopher Samba was then afforded his first chance from a set piece as Taarabt picked Rangers record signing out with a floated free-kick from the left but his nod down was turned behind by City’s Holt.
A period of possession for the R’s saw Townsend test Bunn from distance after Mackie had done well to win the ball back for QPR as the match entered the final 15 minutes before Cesar had to ensure a shot from Snodgrass - on the turn - was turned out for a corner.
Zamora then went close to heading in a winner as Towsend’s dink to the back stick picked out the R’s striker but Martin did enough to put him off as it went past the post with eight minutes left on the clock.
Townsend then himself forced Bunn into a diving save as his strike from 25-yards moved along the way as QPR continued to pile the pressure on the Canaries defence in search of a winner.
Unfortunately it never came as QPR’s struggles in front of goal continued for another week and underlined Redknapp’s desire to secure another forward on deadline day.