Football: White's reward

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The Independent Online
Norwich City. . . . . .3

Ekoku 9, 55, Bowen 87

QPR. . . . . . . . . . 4

Barker 49, Peacock 64, Penrice 70, White 84

Attendance: 16,499

JOHN DEEHAN and Robert Chase would disagree, but it is difficult to avoid the feeling that Norwich City's rural idyll is collapsing around them. Of 11 matches since Mike Walker left Deehan at the helm, they have won only one, the first, at Wycombe in the FA Cup. They are without a Premiership success since New Year's Day.

In truth, they played well enough going forward in a breathtaking contest, to have lifted their depression. Unfortunately, they repeatedly pulled the rug from under themselves with careless defending. Norwich led twice, on both occasions courtesy of Efan Ekoku, and ought to have registered their first home victory since mid-December against a QPR side whose own season has reached a crossroads.

But after Ekoku's early header enabled them to reach half-time in front, they were punished for flat-footed ball- watching as Ray Wilkins delivered a left-wing corner, stabbed in by Simon Barker. And again, after Ekoku had restored the advantage by lifting Ian Crook's raking pass over Jan Stejskal's advance, their aerial resistance was non-existent as Darren Peacock leapt to loop Gary Penrice's penetrating throw-in, helped on by Devon White, out of Bryan Gunn's reach.

Norwich were still searching for some composure when Rangers scored again, Trevor Sinclair finding the head of Penrice with a cross from the right.

Perhaps there was a shade of offside about the fourth Rangers goal - a well-

deserved reward for White, deputising tirelessly for the injured Les Ferdinand - but then Ekoku's first had been preceded by a clear push in the back on David Bardsley.

Norwich came back again as Rangers' concentration flagged, Mark Bowen blasting home a fine half-volley from the edge of the box; but the Londoners would not be denied what was only their second win in 10 starts.

Rangers' last goal followed the loss by Norwich of Rob Newman with a suspected broken arm, but there was no excuse for basic mistakes, as Deehan conceded.

Having begun the day responding to reports of a pounds 4m Tottenham move for Chris Sutton, so far repulsed by the chairman, Robert Chase, Deehan ended it waiting for a change of luck. Others, though, are questioning whether he is capable of maintaining the elevated status of his team.