After Norwich City's frustrating 2-2 draw with struggling QPR, Connor Southwell delivers six things you might have missed from Loftus Road. 

1 - Opportunity knocked. Opportunity missed

In the away end, in the dug-out and on the pitch – it was hard to escape the feeling of missed opportunity at Loftus Road as the final whistle rang out.

Heads were down as the players walked to salute the near 3,000 supporters who had endured difficulties getting to the capital on the trains. That disappointed feeling was palpable.  

It was a blood and thunder contest that swung between all outcomes. QPR led. Then Norwich drew level. Then led. Then were pegged back. In the end, a draw was a fair outcome.

But on a day where Hull stumbled at home to Swansea, and Coventry weren’t in action until Sunday, it felt like a chance for Norwich to hammer home their play-off ambitions.

After an under-par first half, Norwich showed resilience to work their way back into the contest after the break. Kenny McLean’s set-piece restored parity and then their play moved a beat quicker as Jack Stacey crossed for Josh Sargent to nod home.

They had the momentum. It was a game that was there to finish. Three points dangling, waiting to be grabbed.

Decisions by David Wagner and his coaching team, coupled with a collective switching off from a swift QPR throw, cost Norwich two valuable points in their play-off push.

How valuable could those points prove come May? Only time will tell.

2 - Fox in the box (and the stand)

There were reports of a rogue fox making its way through the away end before kicking off, greeting Norwich City fans as they arrived inside Loftus Road before making a swift exit.

Later on in the contest, Norwich had a fox in the box with Josh Sargent reaching new heights to meet Jack Stacey’s cross to nod the ball into the net for 2-1.

Sargent’s physicality makes him an elite athlete and he is combining that base with a goal-scoring intuition that had been lacking in his game in years gone by.

The American international is outperforming his expected goals rate, scoring seven from an xG of 4.2, showing his finishing ability.

Norwich are a more productive team with Sargent spearheading their attack, which is a fact now backed up by underlying data. Ashley Barnes described the forward as City’s ‘best player’ post-match.

Sargent has scored four goals in seven matches since his return from a 20-game lay off and has added an edge that was required in City’s play.

There was some doubt, both from City and Sargent, that he would return in the same condition that he found before his injury. Whilst there is still some work to do to get him back to the fitness level he requires, he is showing himself as one of the best in the division.

Fantastic Mr Fox.

Eastern Daily Press: There was post-match confusion over whether Norwich City winger Borja Sainz was cautioned.There was post-match confusion over whether Norwich City winger Borja Sainz was cautioned. (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

3 - Borja confusion

There has been much debate over David Wagner’s substitutions, and the City boss sought to clarify his decision-making after the full-time whistle.

“To be fair, because of Borja’s yellow card, we felt it was important to finish 11 against 11 if you'd like to have a chance,” Wagner said post-match in the capital.

 Yet, there is no record of the Spanish winger being cautioned by referee Ben Toner, with Norwich picking up four throughout the game. They were awarded to Ben Gibson, Kenny McLean, Grant Hanley and substitute Sam McCallum.

Either Wagner and his coaching team have been given the wrong information, or it has been missed by those who monitor and produce statistics. Neither sides nor the EFL have recorded one in their match reports.

Frames on the video show the referee with a yellow in his hand, but it’s unclear whether that was shown to Sainz for kicking the ball out of the stand after Sargent powered home.

That was a key factor behind the decision not to bring Sydney van Hooijdonk into the contest despite Norwich needing a goal to break the deadlock. McCallum and Onel Hernandez were preferred on that particular occasion.

Wagner’s substitutions have been at the centre of the post-match reflections. Perhaps the real question is whether a booking was enough to haul off a player who produced the match-winning moment against Coventry after last weekend - especially when others had also been cautioned. 

Eastern Daily Press: Norwich City have endured a difficult season on the road.Norwich City have endured a difficult season on the road. (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

4 - Travel sickness

It may have gone under the radar somewhat, but Norwich City have endured a difficult time on their travels this season.

Saturday’s draw was their 16th game of the season on their travels – winning four, drawing four and losing eight. That puts them 16th in the away table.

QPR boss Marti Cifuentes was hoping to prey on their travel sickness before the game and it is increasingly becoming problematic for their top-six aspirations. 16 points on the road puts them in the bottom nine of the Championship table.

Yet, at Carrow Road, they are the seventh best. That swing in outcome based on where the game is being played is hard to quantify.

Norwich have taken just a single point against four of the teams who rank inside the bottom five based on points taken at home. They’ve lost at Rotherham (23rd), Swansea (20th) and Millwall (21st) taking a point at QPR (24th).

Bizarrely, Norwich have taken more points against those in the top five on the same statistic having drawn away at both Southampton and Ipswich.

It isn’t just Norwich – their top six chasing rivals West Brom, Coventry, Preston and Sunderland all sit outside the top 10 for points taken on the road.

Wagner will be keen to improve that record in the final seven matches away from Carrow Road, starting with Blackburn in a fortnight.

Eastern Daily Press: Jack Stacey was playing through illness against QPR.Jack Stacey was playing through illness against QPR. (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

5 - Challenging conditions

With Jack Stacey falling unwell after Norwich City checked in at their hotel on Friday night, Kellen Fisher was given the call to travel to their base on standby.

The youngster climbed into a taxi and reported to their pre-match base late in the event that Stacey was unable to fulfil his duties the following day.

Fisher was among the City squad that travelled to Loftus Road but wasn’t selected to form part of the matchday squad with David Wagner and his staff feeling that Jacob Sorensen could provide sufficient cover, having done so during their Championship title-winning season under Daniel Farke, albeit at left back, and at points for Max Aarons last season.

Perhaps there is an irony that the source for QPR’s equaliser was the opposing side – but it was another decision that raised eyebrows when news of Stacey’s illness were revealed post-match.

Given the circumstances, Stacey’s performance was impressive. His run and cross to tee up Sargent was a moment of quality befitting any game.

Sorensen did struggle to grip Ilias Chair after his introduction into the contest and, with his Norwich deal expiring at the end of the season, it is hard to see a scenario where his stay in Norfolk is extended.

Eastern Daily Press: Norwich City are set for a double header at Carrow Road this week.Norwich City are set for a double header at Carrow Road this week. (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

6 - A big week

It is a point that can only truly be reflected upon once Norwich City have played out the entire week, with two big Carrow Road clashes to come this week.

Starting with Watford visiting NR1 on Tuesday, it is a test against a side who have been strong on their travels and have proven somewhat of a bogey team for Norwich in recent years.

The Hornets have won eight of the last nine meetings between the pair – a 3-0 away win in the Premier League in 2022 was the last time that Norwich beat them. At Carrow Road, that run extends back to a 4-2 win in May 2016.

Watford have struggled for form this season but are seven unbeaten on the road. It serves as a chance for Norwich to open up a seven-point gap between the sides with a victory.

Valerien Ismael’s side overturned a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2 at Vicarage Road in the reverse fixture in November.

Then, Cardiff arrive to Carrow Road. If Norwich can record a healthy return this week, this will be a point that may be considered a bonus. An underpar return, however, and that sense of missed opportunity will only intensify.