DAVE Sexton’s Rangers were looking once again to mount a serious title challenge as Middlesbrough came to Loftus Road.
Dave Sexton’s Rangers were looking once again to mount a serious title challenge as Middlesbrough came to Loftus Road.
Teams: Queens Park Rangers v Middlesbrough
Date: November 20, 1976
Competition: Football League First Division
Venue: Loftus Road, London
The R’s came into the season with a wave of expectancy over Loftus Road following their last gasp title blow at the back end of the previous season.
Liverpool pipped the R’s to the post after the final day’s play, and it was hoped that Rangers could put in a similar challenge to the Reds this time out, with little in the way of personnel change.
Back to back defeats in the first couple of games was an eye-opener for Rangers however, with Everton smashing the previous season’s runners-up 4-0 at Loftus Road.
QPR sat in 15th place heading into the encounter with six defeats from their opening 14 fixtures condemning them to the wrong half of the table and scrapping to keep up with leaders Liverpool.
Middlesbrough currently sat in 12th place, seemingly poised for another season of mid-table football. This was epitomised by their inconsistent start to the campaign which saw some impressive wins at fortress Ayresome Park.
Away from home however Jack Charlton’s men couldn’t seem to find their form with no win coming from their six games on the road, recently succumbing to a 3-1 defeat at Stoke City.
Queens Park Rangers made three changes from the side that were defeated by Coventry City (1-2) with full-backs Dave Clement and Ian Gillard making way for Eddie Kelly and Don Shanks.
Middlesbrough – lead by captain Stuart Boam – could call upon the talent of winger David Armstrong and the steel of ex-Leeds United and England international Terry Cooper and Graeme Souness.
After a somewhat disappointing first half the game sprang into life shortly before the hour mark when Stan Bowles was felled in the area by 20-year-old Boro man Tony McAndrew.
There were protestations from the visiting players but nevertheless Mr Reynolds from Swansea pointed to the spot and Don Givens was able to net his fourth of the campaign.
Then some magic ensued from Dave Thomas down the flank as he laid on two goals – Don Masson netted the second with Stan Bowles stealing in for the third.
The drama didn’t stop there however as Stan Bowles became the first Rangers player to be dismissed for 15 years – since Mark Lazarus’ dismissal in 1961.
Bowles was adjudged to have been too over-zealous in a tackle with Willie Maddren, and the defender’s fury was only matched by sheer confusion and bewilderment at Loftus Road as Bowles received his orders.
It mattered little in the course of the fixture as Rangers romped home against a Boro side who remained winless on the road and firmly planted in mid-table.
QPR were suffering a hang-over from their excellent 75-76 season but only losing one in six games in the season run helped to bolster their position to relative safety and 14th place.
Middlesbrough meanwhile secured a 12th placed finish, and following the disappointing home defeat, then went undefeated until the end of the season.
Final Score: Queens Park Rangers 3-0 Middlesbrough
Queens Park Rangers: Parkes, Shanks, Hollins, Kelly, McLintock, Webb, Leach, Thomas, Masson, Bowles, Givens
Middlesbrough: Platt, Craggs, Cooper, Souness, Boam, Maddren, McAndrew, Mills, Wood (Hickton 55), Boesma, Armstrong
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