Bunn proves to be Norwich unlikely saviour

Posted by Paddy Davitt

Mark Bunn deserved his moment in the spotlight after a superb second-half penalty stop capped a display rich in defiance to edge Norwich a point closer their Premier League end game.

Bunn produced a string of key saves with QPR upping the ante considerably in the closing stages of a 0-0 deadlock at Loftus Road. None more so than his agile spot-kick save to deny Adel Taarabt after the goalkeeper was adjudged to have impeded Jamie Mackie in an attempt to bail out Javier Garrido.

Bunn has been castigated in certain quarters during the club's festive downturn and New Year hangover. Injured England international John Ruddy is a tough act to follow and City's alarming concession rate against the likes of champions Manchester City and Liverpool had inevitably raised questions over their last line of defence.

Chris Hughton pertinently backed his keeper on the eve of this Loftus Road draw. Bunn, in his considered opinion, should largely be absolved of personal responsibility in a collective defensive approach that lacked the sharpness of Norwich's better spells of consistency this season.

Bunn bailed out the Canaries in midweek against his boyhood club Tottenham with two notable stops to foil Jermain Defoe and Gylfi Sigurdsson. His body of work against Rangers was equally impressive to signal Hughton's squad are back on the up after the abject FA Cup defeat to Luton.

A first Premier League win since Wigan in early December would add an extra layer of insurance, but the graph is moving in a positive direction again. In truth, a greater degree of accuracy in the final third may have brought those elusive three points against QPR.

Julio Cesar's one-handed parry denied Wes Hoolahan from close range in a wide open second period after an opening stanza suffused with a cagey watchfulness on both sides of the divide. Norwich had plenty of opportunities to penetrate in the final third but maddeningly the delivery was far too often imprecise.

Harry Redknapp's reputation as one of the game's entertainers appears to have been sacrificed in the pursuit of the greater good at present. Manchester City were unable to break down a solid Rangers' formation in midweek, with Shaun Derry adding extra insurance in front of the back four. Norwich were similarly unable to penetrate, despite edging territory and possession in the opening period.

The hosts' will feel a sense of grievance their own survival bid was not boosted by a victory in a complete role reversal after the interval. For that, Norwich had Bunn to thank. Not only the penalty stop but a wonderfully athletic mid-air leap to tip around Andros Townsend's piledriver.

Hughton opted to keep new striker signing Luciano Becchio in reserve until the closing stages. The City boss may well have left himself open to criticism on the terraces, but the Norwich boss by nature is a cautious practitioner. A draw at a resurgent Rangers moved the Canaries onto 28 points before the rest of their rivals kicked off this weekend. That point could look even better in time.

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