STRUGGLING side Queens Park Rangers faced mid-table Aldershot Town as they battled it out in a Boxing Day clash at the Recreation Ground.
Teams: Aldershot v Queens Park Rangers
Date: Monday December 26, 1955
Competition: Football League Division Three (South)
Venue: Recreation Ground, Aldershot.
Jack Taylor was at the helm at Loftus Road having taken over from Dave Magnall in 1952, and he was charged with the unenviable task of hauling QPR back up to the Second Division. Magnall`s Rangers had four seasons in the second tier, but following relegation Taylor took the post.
Following relegation Rangers had flattered to deceive initially finishing 20th, then 18th before rounding off the 1954-55 season in 15th. It was gradual improvement from Taylor`s QPR, but not quite the heady heights of the Second Division.
Taylor bolstered the squad in the summer with the captures of defender Billy Nelson from West Ham United, midfielders George Dawson and Hugh Rainey from Motherwell and Portsmouth respectively with strike duo Billy McKay and Mike Hellawell come in from Deal Town and Salts FC.
The captures were weighted by the loss of two key players. Defender Billy Spence was forced to retire injured after three seasons with QPR following his £8,000 capture from Portsmouth in late 1951, while experienced defender Brian Nicholas left Loftus Road for neighbours Chelsea for £5,000, just weeks before the season started.
Struggling QPR were looking for an upturn in fortunes as they remained languished at the wrong end of the table. Eight successive defeats saw them plummet down the table, after only four wins in the build up to the Aldershot clash.
A slender 2-1 victory over promotion chasing Brighton & Hove Albion had threatened to spark a revival in the R`s fortunes, only to be quashed by a thumping 4-0 defeat away to Southampton. Rangers had not picked up an away victory thus far in the 55-56 season, picking up four points on their travels.
Aldershot were holding their own in the division in the midst of comparably larger clubs. Indeed their plucky 4-4 draw at home to Reading epitomised their pluckiness and fighting spirit having previously defeated the Royals in a cup replay (3-0).
The Shots had made the Recreation Ground a fortress with only two defeats coming at home all season. A staggering 28 goals had been scored by Aldershot at the Rec thus far which included three three-goal hauls, along with two four goal fixtures.
Among their ranks was former QPR forward Charlie Barley who had signed for them that year in 1955. They were forced to replace long-serving goalkeeper Fred Brown with Arsenal`s Keith Amos following his departure to First Division West Bromwich Albion.
QPR made two changes from the side that were thrashed by Southampton with full back Bill Nelson making way for Pat Woods and a change up front came as Willie Clark was replaced by Mike Tomkys.
Rangers raced away to a two goal lead in the fixture courtesy of striker Conway Smith, his brace ensured that the visitors went into the break with a shock, but welcomed 2-0 lead.
The lead was halved in the second period by the Shots, but they didn`t display the fire power that they had shown in previous home fixtures as the game finished 2-1 to the visitors.
Smith, a signing from Huddersfield in 1951, finished the season as QPR top goalscorer after discovering some form in the middle portion of the campaign. His 19 goals were enough to steer Rangers to 18th position, a respectable finish considering their early plight.
Aldershot finished two places and a solitary point above QPR in 16th place, but a few years later in 1958 a similar placed finish wasn`t enough to save them from becoming founder members of the Fourth Division in the restructuring of the Football League.
Final Score: Aldershot 1-2 Queens Park Rangers
Queens Park Rangers: Brown, Woods, Ingham, Petchey, Rutter, Angell, Pounder, Smith, Tomkys, Cameron, Shepherd.
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