QUEENS Park Rangers travelled to promotion rivals Burnley with a view to striking an early blow in the race for Division One.
Teams: Burnley v Queens Park Rangers
Date: Saturday September 9, 1972
Competition: Football League Division Two
Venue: Turf Moor, Burnley.
Two of the division`s promotion prospects clashed at Turf Moor with their own records to protect in what was anticipated to be an entertaining affair.
Burnley sat proudly at the top of the second division with a view to extending their lead on the chasing pack. They started their season with back to back draws against Carlisle United and Fulham before home victories over Aston Villa (4-1) and local rivals Preston North End (2-0) along with an away win over Portsmouth (2-0) helped propel them to the pinnacle of the division.
Queens Park Rangers had their own record to protect having gone 17 games undefeated in the division – a run taken forward from the previous campaign. Three draws and a victory from the opening four games saw Rangers into a positive position as the season began to take shape.
The R`s made one change from the side that were dumped out the League Cup by West Bromwich Albion – Andy McCulloch came in for Mick Leach up front in that ever eternal search to replace Rodney Marsh who was sold to Manchester City in March of that year.
Burnley deployed a three pronged attack at Turf Moor against the R`s including Paul Fletcher, Frank Casper and Leighton James, and this was supplemented by the creative talents of winger Dave Thomas who also started for the Clarets.
Rangers took the lead at Turf Moor little after the half-hour mark courtesy of a strike from Martin Busby. It was the midfielder`s second goal of the season as the R`s had the upper hand in an entertaining affair.
The lead lasted only five minutes as on the stroke of half time Tony Hazell`s poor backpass allowed forward Frank Casper to coast through and slot past a forlorn Phil Parkes. The former Rotherham United man took advantage of a rare mishap as the sun began to shine over a sodden Turf Moor.
Despite free-flowing end to end football neither side could score that all-important winner as the sides were forced to settle for a point a-piece – keeping alive a now 18 game unbeaten league run for the R`s.
All media outlets were in agreement to Rangers dominance over Burnley in an entertaining affair, that is of course apart from the Daily Mirror who described it as a “stale, slipshod duel” with “a surfeit of spoiling tactics and a famine of attractive, constructive football.” – Suffice to say they were very much on their own.
Burnley assistant manager Joe Brown was happy with the result believing that QPR were an excellent side.
He said: “They were the best side we`ve met this season – physically very strong and willing to work for each other.
“No wonder they`ve gone 18 games in the league without being beaten.”
Following this result Rangers wasted no time in bolstering their forward line with two notable inclusions – Stan Bowles from Carlisle United for £110,000 and the aforementioned Dave Thomas from Burnley.
Both were key to the Rangers revival in the Second Division as the R`s were promoted in second place, behind Burnley. QPR finished 11 points clear of third place Aston Villa as they impressed with the best home record in the division.
Burnley finished one point clear of QPR to finish the season as Second Division champions embarking on a six game unbeaten to hold off the R`s in the dying stages. This provided the source of much gloating the following season to former winger Thomas who was subject to chants of “Thomas, Thomas – Runner Up!”
Final Score: Burnley 1-1 Queens Park Rangers
Burnley: Stevenson, Docherty, Newton, Dobson, Waldron, Thomson, Thomas, Casper, Fletcher, Collins, James.
Queens Park Rangers: Parkes, Clement, Watson, Venables, Evans, Hazell, Busby, Francis, O`Rourke (Salvage 60), McCulloch, Givens.