Queen's Park Rangers 3 Norwich City 3: Grant faces sizeable task

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The Independent Online

When Peter Grant was a midfielder at Celtic, ostentatious gesticulation was such a part of his game that he acquired the nickname "Peter the Pointer". As he watched the Norwich side he takes formal charge of today collapse as they defended a 3-2 lead in the final minutes, it must have occurred to him that a lot more pointing will be in order in the weeks to come.

Not that Queen's Park Rangers were much better at the back. Purists would have despaired of a game liberally sprinkled with goals long before the fourth official raised his board to announce five minutes of injury time, but it was then that panic gripped Norwich. John Gregory spoke of resilience, but the truth is that QPR preserved their unbeaten record under him largely because Norwich seemed paralysed by the prospect of a first away win of the season.

A long ball, a half-blocked shot, was followed by Martin Rowlands, picking up the rebound and squeezing in his shot at the near post from a narrow angle. It was all very messy, very avoidable and very predictable. It is that lack of confidence Grant will have to address. Craig Fleming, who played with Grant at Carrow Road in the late 1990s, believes he can. "He was definitely management material. He was an organiser," he said.

Organisation was almost entirely lacking on Saturday. First, Darren Huckerby was untended to give Norwich the lead, then Jimmy Smith was left in space to equalise. Rowlands thumped in a free-kick to give the home side a half-time advantage, but Dion Dublin tipped things back Norwich's way as he exploited a static defence.

Only six minutes were left when Rob Earnshaw converted a penalty awarded for Zesh Rehmann's needless tug on Huckerby, but that was still enough time for QPR to find an equaliser.

Goals: Huckerby (4) 0-1; Smith (24) 1-1; Rowlands (45) 2-1; Dublin (72) 2-2: Earnshaw (pen 84) 2-3; Rowlands (90) 3-3.

Queen's Park Rangers (4-4-2): P Jones; Lomas (Rose, 90), Rehman, Stewart, Bignot; Rowlands, Bircham, Smith, Cook; R Jones (Gallen, 77), Blackstock. Substitutes not used: Royce (gk), Ward, Bailey.

Norwich City (4-3-3): Gallacher; Colin, Fleming, Shackell, Drury; Etuhu, Robinson (Dublin, 67), Hughes (Safri, 75); Croft (McVeigh, 87), Earnshaw, Huckerby. Substitutes not used: Camp (gk), R Jarvis

Referee: Andre Mariner (W Midlands).

Booked: QPR Rehman, Smith, Lomas; Norwich Shackell.

Man of the match: Rowlands.

Attendance: 14,793.

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