MANAGERLESS QPR travelled to leaders Barnsley for their toughest test thus far in Division One.
Teams: Barnsley v Queens Park Rangers
Date: Saturday 14 September 1996
Competition: Nationwide League Division One
Venue: Oakwell, Barnsley.
See Also: Barnsley 0-1 QPR – 09-10-82.
Queens Park Rangers were travelling to Oakwell to face a Barnsley side that has won all of their previous games to take them to the summit of the table.
Danny Wilson`s men had won all five of their league games, with a victory over Rochdale in the League Cup over two legs. The Tykes were looking good value for the top having dispatched having dispatched sides including West Bromwich Albion, Manchester City and Stoke City.
Rangers hadn`t picked up a win since the second game of the season away at Portsmouth. The R`s had been rocked by the news that Kevin Gallen would be injured for quite some time after scoring his second down at Fratton Park.
Since then they had drawn two and lost two a run which culminated in the departure of Ray Wilkins as boss. Ray had taken over from Gerry Francis in a desperate bid to keep Rangers in the top flight. He did not accomplish this and five games in he was gone and he left Frank Sibley to hold the fort in W12.
Barnsley took the potent strike force of Clint Marcelle and Andy Liddell into the fixture having scored four goals a piece from the opening five games, with Paul Wilkinson chipping in with three goals in all competitions for the Tykes.
Danny Dichio was Rangers sole striking option, being supported from deep by Andy Impey and Trevor Sinclair. The R`s brought in youth product Mark Perry in for his debut at the tender age of 17. This was pale in comparison to the current caretaker boss who retains the record of Rangers youngest player at 15 years 275 days.
The game got underway with Rangers in a positive frame of mind, and their attack minded approach nearly caught the host cold as early as the second minute. Paul Murray`s marauding run and cross was dispatched by Daniele Dichio, only to be ruled out for offside.
However moments later the R`s did put themselves in front and Dichio was integral to this latest attack. Trevor Sinclair was persistently being linked with a move away from W12 but that aside he ploughed down the left and sent a tantalising cross into the heart of the box, Dichio met with his head and knocked down for Simon Barker.
Barker did the rest with ablomb firing his half volley into the bottom corner – Rangers were infront in emphatic fashion.
The league leaders were looking to live up to their previous billing with defenders Neil Thompson and Nicky Eaden trying their luck from distance. The American stopper Jurgen Sommer was keeping the Tykes at bay with a string of excellent saves.
Barnsley were beginning to turn the screw on their opponents but the R`s rearguard, which included loanee Matt Jackson, held firm in the face some good attacking play.
Sensationally Rangers doubled their lead shortly before the break, and Sibley`s decision to start the youngster Perry became fully justified as the youth product helped himself to a goal.
It was Sinclair once again the tormentor down the left as he picked out another teasing cross to test the Barnsley backline, Matt Jackson flicked the ball on for Perry to nod home with relative ease.
Barnsley manager Danny Wilson made a change at half time clearly dissatisfied with what he had seen from his promotion chasing outfit. Darren Sheridan made way with Martin Bullock taking his place in the centre of the park.
It mattered not when Rangers stunned Oakwell with a third goal just four minutes after the break, this time Dichio reaping the rewards for his endeavour.
Impey looked sprightly down the left flank as he burst away from his opposing defender – his delivery found Murray who had his shot parried by home-town goalkeeper Dave Watson. Danny Dichio followed up on the effort to place home his third of the campaign.
Eventually Barnsley replied when Paul Wilkinson nudged home substitute Bullock`s powerful low cross for his fourth of the season – but it was to no avail as Rangers has left Barnsley`s best start in 18 years shattered.
It mattered not by the end of the campaign as Barnsley were promoted in second place behind champions Bolton Wanderers. They finished off with 80 points and reached the Premier League for the first time in the club`s history.
Rangers fell quite a way short to regaining their Premier League status finishing five points off sixth place Crystal Palace – the eventual playoff winners. Stewart Houston lasted just over a year before Ray Harford took charge of the R`s.
Final Score: Barnsley 1-3 Queens Park Rangers
Barnsley: Watson, Eaden, Appleby, Sheridan (Bullock 45), Davis, De Zeeuw, Marcelle, Redfearn, Wilkinson, Liddell (Regis 61), Thompson.
Queens Park Rangers: Sommer, Jackson, Brevett, Barker, McDonald, Yates (Maddix 56, Brazier 68) Murray, Perry, Dichio, Impey, Sinclair.
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