QUEENS Park Rangers were in touching distance of the summit as they travelled to mid-table Leicester City.
Queens Park Rangers were in touching distance of the summit as they travelled to mid-table Leicester City.
Teams: Leicester City v Queens Park Rangers
Date: Wednesday February 26, 1976
Competition: Football League First Division
Venue: Filbert Street, Leicester
Hopes were high for Dave Sexton’s Queens Park Rangers as they mesmerised the First Division with not only their free-flowing passing football, but their fully-justified lofty league placing.
The writing was on the wall for a positive campaign when Gerry Francis slammed home against league favourites Liverpool on the opening day for a comfortable 2-0 win – and their challenge refused to relent.
Rangers were looking to close the gap at the top of the table with Liverpool losing away to Arsenal the day before (0-1) – Sexton’s men were looking to take advantage of the rare slip-up.
Jimmy Bloomfield’s Leicester City were looking to continue their positive rise up the table after a sluggish start in the First Division – dropping as low as 21st they now looked destined to remain safe.
Nevertheless the ambition from Bloomfield’s Foxes was clear – to ascend the Division and given themselves every opportunity of challenging the big boys.
A trio of wins against Arsenal (2-1), Man City (1-0) and Stoke City (2-1) bolstered their hopes of a top-half finish – a loss against Burnley (0-1) and a home draw against Sheffield United (1-1) shortly followed.
Rangers meanwhile were riding the crest of a wave with five wins in their last six games against Birmingham City (2-1), Aston Villa (2-0), Wolves (4-2), Spurs (3-0) and Ipswich Town (3-1).
Central to their fortune was their style of play as they continually drew plaudits from fellow teams, players and the media for Sexton’s expansive style.
To that end the R’s gaffer made only one change from the side that beat Ipswich – with Frank McLintock coming back in at the expense of Mick Leach.
On a mild evening at Filbert Street, Rangers attacked from the off and got their just rewards striking early courtesy of a typical crisp passing move.
Stan Bowles laid in Dave Thomas down the left – he reached the edge of the area before feigning outside and drilling a rasping left-footed effort into the corner of the net.
From then on the R’s had a good foot-hold on the game and looked comfortable for the majority of the first half. The second half however saw a great deal of nerves take to the fore.
While the R’s defence looked solid enough in the first period, they were tested a great deal more in the second and had to withstand some heavy pressure from the Foxes strike-force.
As it was QPR held on during what Dave Sexton described as a ‘tense second half’ to leave them 0.12 of a goal behind Liverpool at the summit of the league.
Rangers were in the middle of what was proven to be a majestic run, winning 23 of 24 games in their bid for the title, eventually however their coveted title slipped from their grasp against Norwich City.
Despite dominating Rangers were condemned to their seventh defeat of the season, with Liverpool sewing up the title after the final day.
Leicester meanwhile picked up dramatically to finish seventh place on 45 points. The Foxes recovering from a disastrous start to secure a respectable standing in the top flight.
Final Score: Leicester City 0-1 Queens Park Rangers
Leicester City: Wallington, Whitworth, Rofe, Kember, Blockley, Woollett, Weller, Lee, Worthington, Alderson, Garland (Sammels 50)
Queens Park Rangers: Parkes, Clement, Gillard, McLintock, Hollins, Webb, Thomas, Francis, Masson, Bowles, Givens
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