RANGERS required a timely boost to fire themselves away from an unlikely relegation place in the top flight.
Rangers required a timely boost to fire themselves away from an unlikely relegation place in the top flight.
Teams: Middlesbrough v Queens Park Rangers
Date: Saturday April 16, 1977
Competition: Football League Third Division
Venue: Ayresome Park
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.
The season was quickly turning into a damp squib however with more defeats in the first half of the season than the entire 1975/76 campaign, as Liverpool once again proved dominant at the top.
Rangers were fighting at the wrong end of the table, and despite many critics looking at last season’s side believing the R’s were better than the relegation places, the side was undoubtedly in a battle.
The R’s travelled to Ayresome Park without a win in six games, and only one win in nine – and in that run Rangers had only scored four times to belie their previous season’s performance.
Rangers had indeed only won once on the road at Everton (3-1) – meaning that they had only picked up six points on the road in total thus far.
Under the guidance of Jack Charlton, Middlesbrough were consolodating their place in the top flight but at present seemed to be in free-fall.
Charlton’s men had no win in the last 11 games, a run compounded by defeats at Manchester City (1-0), Aston Villa (1-0), West Bromwich Albion (2-1) and rivals Newcastle United (1-0).
Dave Sexton made three changes following the home draw with Coventry City (1-1) with Mick Leach, Don Shanks and Dave Thomas making way for Dave Clement, John Hollins and Frank McLintock.
Rangers remain relatively unfancied as they headed to the North-East, given their perilous plight at the wrong end of the table, but games in hand eased the situation somewhat.
McLintock’s stout defending set an early marker for the R’s as he denied a brisk attack in the opening stages for Boro, and shortly before the half hour mark they reaped the rewards for a solid rearguard action.
Former Boro player Don Masson put a testing ball into the area and Stuart Boam missed his attempted clearance – this gave the opportunity for Rob Abbott to surge into the box unmarked and prod home for the opener.
Shortly before the hour mark Rangers doubled their lead when Boam was in the thick of the action once again to make a goal-line clearance only for Masson to force it home past Pat Cuff.
It was the spark of life that the R’s needed to get their fight against relegation under way, following this result up with a thumping home win over Manchester United (4-0).
Despite losing three on the bounce, Rangers lost only one in six games in the season run in 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: Middlesbrough 0-2 Queens Park Rangers
Middlesbrough: Cuff, Craggs, Cooper, Souness, Boam, Maddren, Hadley, Mills, McAndrew, Boersma (Bailey 65), Armstrong.
Queens Park Rangers: Parkes, Clement, Gillard, Hollins, McLintock, Webb, Eastoe, Kelly, Masson, Abbott, Givens.
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