QUEENS Park Rangers travelled to local rivals Chelsea in the Milk Cup quarter-final replay.
Queens Park Rangers travelled to local rivals Chelsea in the Milk Cup quarter-final replay.
Teams: Chelsea v Queens Park Rangers
Date: Wednesday January 29, 1986
Competition: Milk Cup Quarter-Final Replay
Venue: Stamford Bridge, London.
There was a new found feeling of prosperity hitting Loftus Road at the beginning of the 1985-86 season with former Oxford United boss Jim Smith replacing caretaker boss Frank Sibley.
The former U’s boss had taken the Oxfordshire minnows into the top-flight and his arrival in W12 excited many as he sought to turn QPR into an attacking force.
Three wins from the first four games certainly sparked positivity around Loftus Road, but an eventual dip in form saw QPR slump to five successive defeats over the Christmas period.
The turn of the year was met with a slight improvement in form with Smith’s side defeating former club Oxford United (3-1) and Newcastle United (3-1), while losing out narrowly in a goalfest away at Everton (3-4).
Their subsequent cup draw against Chelsea drew a capacity 27,000 and smashing the record for gate receipts with £132,572 being generated from the cup clash.
John Byrne had handed QPR the lead in a keenly-fought West London derby, when good work by the lightening quick Wayne Fereday squared for poacher Byrne to slam home beyond the reach of Niedzwiecki.
The equaliser came barely 12 minutes later when Pat Nevin when Colin Lee’s header fell kindly for him to dispatch his close-range effort with aplomb.
The 1-1 draw mean they would have to do it all again at Stamford Bridge with QPR disappointed that for all their chances they couldn’t finish off their rivals on the evening.
John Hollins’ side started the month off well and were looking strong contenders for Everton’s Division One crown. Positive away wins at Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup (1-0) and West Bromwich Albion (3-0) sandwiched a home win over Luton Town (1-0).
In between Chelsea’s two cup ties against Queens Park Rangers they were forced to play another energy-sapping game against Liverpool in the FA Cup, a game they lost 2-1 at Stamford Bridge three days before their QPR League Cup game.
The visitors to Stamford Bridge named an unchanged side with Alan McDonald and skipper Steve Wicks marshalling the defence, while Gary Bannister and John Byrne would look to put away their chances and finally kill off their local rivals.
Chelsea made one change from the side that faced QPR at Loftus Road with Kerry Dixon dropping out of the 11 and Scotsman Kevin McAllister taking his place in the line-up.
The early stages was everything you’d expect from a West London derby, keenly competed on a boggy surface that certainly stifled the creativity of both sides.
Chelsea were creating most of the pressure in the encounter, but Rangers had more clear cut opportunities. Indeed Niedzwiecki had to be alert to deny striker Byrne with his feet shortly before the half-hour mark.
Moments later it was his strike partner Bannister who was to test the Welsh stopper, his dipping volley was eventually smothered by the keeper as the visitors looked more likely to break the deadlock.
The second half brought with it a casualty for QPR and it was Byrne who could no longer continue through injury. Martin Allen replaced him on 51 minutes as both sides began to labour under pressure on a difficult surface.
The second half ended goalless and the game moved into the perils of extra time, with both sides beginning to feel the strain and many players having to be treated for cramp.
In dramatic fashion QPR took the lead in the extra time, Robbie James’ corner was well defended for another set-piece. But from the resultant corner Alan McDonald rose like a salmon in the area to crash home the first goal of the game.
The visiting supporters were sent into raptures as the home crowd fell silent to what was a truly defining goal in testing conditions.
Chelsea pressed late on, throwing men forward in search of an equaliser but it was the antics of goalkeeper Eddie Niedzwiecki that ultimately handed the game to QPR.
A moment of madness from the Welsh keeper saw him lose the ball on the halfway line to Gary Bannister, the striker rolled the ball square for the midfielder who could hardly walk, Michael Robinson and his lofted effort from over 50-yards looped over the travelling goalkeeper an into an unguarded net.
Queens Park Rangers had won the battle and could look to a truly memorable finish in testing conditions as their reward. They faced Liverpool in a two-legged semi-final a couple of weeks later.
Terry Fenwick ensured QPR had a lead to take to Anfield, while two own goals from Liverpool made it 2-2 on the night at saw the R’s through to a Wembley final against Smith’s former club Oxford United.
The less said about that game the better, as nobody really knew what went wrong on the day as Smith and QPR were taught a lesson by the First Division minnows and lost out 3-0.
There was better cheer for QPR later that season as a hatrick from Bannister, a brace from Byrne and Leroy Roseinor’s effort smashed any title aspirations the Blues still held with a thumping 6-0 win over Chelsea at Loftus Road.
Overall not a bad season for Hollins’ men who finished in sixth place, 17 points off eventual winners Liverpool.
QPR finished seven places and 19 points worse off than their rivals in 13th place, but could look back on some memorable days out as their consolation.
Final Score: Chelsea 0-2 Queens Park Rangers
Chelsea: Niedzwiecki, Wood, Dublin, Pates, Rougvie, Bumstead, Nevin, Spackman, McAllister, Speedie, Murphy.
Queens Park Rangers: Barron, McDonald, Dawes, Neill, Wicks, Fillery, Robinson, James, Bannister, Byrne (Allen 51), Fereday.
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