PROMOTION candidates Queens Park Rangers hosted Middlesbrough at Loftus Road as they looked to assert their promotion credentials.
Promotion candidates Queens Park Rangers hosted Middlesbrough at Loftus Road as they looked to assert their promotion credentials.
Teams: Queens Park Rangers v Middlesbrough
Date: Tuesday March 5, 1983
Competition: Football League Second Division
Venue: Loftus Road, London
Rangers were hitting fine form at the right time as ‘Boro come to the capital. They were sitting in a promotion place and looked odds on for a top flight return after climbing into the top two in December.
Boss Terry Venables’ improvements could be charted back to late 1980 and after taking the job following the departure of Tommy Docherty he led them to an eighth placed finish.
The following season Rangers finished fifth, and the supporters felt that momentum was carrying them forward as the former R’s midfield hero led them to an FA Cup final against Tottenham Hotspur.
The season thus far epitomised the hard work by Venables and his back-room staff to organise a mean defence, combined with an attack brimming with goalscoring prowess.
Simon Stainrod and Clive Allen, in his second spell at the club, were enjoying a good season as Rangers were riding high in the Second Division.
Rangers had suffered only one defeat in seven, and only two losses at Loftus Road all season. Four consecutive wins over Newcastle United (2-0), Crystal Palace (3-0), Oldham Athletic (1-0) and Barnsley (3-0).
A solid away draw against mid-table Shrewsbury City helped cement Rangers’ showing in the top two and they and Wolverhampton Wanderers vied for promotion and top spot.
‘Boro were looking to complete a season double over QPR after their victory at Ayresome Park. Malcolm Allison had just taken over from Bobby Murdoch as they sought to ascend the table.
Allison’s side had only picked up one win in their last ten, with no victory in their last seven – not including a slender FA Cup triumph over minnows Bishops Stortford after a replay.
Back to back defeats against Oldham Athletic (3-0) and Bolton Wanderers (3-1) on their travels meant that ‘Boro had only picked up two wins on the road thus far.
Rangers made two changed from the side that drew away at Shrewsbury with Terry Fenwick and Warren Neill replaced by Bob Hazell and Glenn Roeder.
Mike Flanagan partnered Clive Allen in attack, with Steve Wicks and Hazell the formidable defensive partnership.
Middlesbrough were led by their home town hero, Tony Mowbray in the centre of defence, while former England Under 23 internationals Irving Nattrass and Ray Hankin also featured for the visitors.
On a sunny afternoon in West London, the R’s took an early lead when Roeder’s pass was cleverly dummied by Flanagan and Gary Micklewhite was on hand to power the ball into the top left hand corner.
Barely a moment for fans to catch their breath and the lead was doubled. A sweeping counter-attacking move saw Tony Sealy feed John Gregory who rolled sideways for Flanagan to prod home past ‘keeper Kelham O’Hanlon.
Middlesbrough earned a penalty when Paul Sugrue burst into the area and his shot was handled in a goal-line melee. Referee Mr Axcell had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Former Huddersfield man Mick Kennedy dispatched the penalty to halve the deficit.
Into the second period and Rangers snatched a third from nothing. A high ball into the box was flicked on by the influential Tony Sealy, for Clive Allen to net his first of the afternoon.
Rangers’ fourth goal was never too far as they continued to dominate proceedings, and it was John Gregory that met a far post corner to nod home unchallenged.
It would be an understatement to say that Rangers were enjoting their afternoon – none more so than Clive Allen, who retrieved a clever Micklewhite through ball from the feet of Gary Waddock to lash home from the edge of the area.
But he and QPR weren’t finished with Allison’s Boro yet as Allen completed an excellent hatrick. Flanagan’s deep cross was well worked by Gregory and Sealy to find an unmarked Allen on the far post, he slid home for his third and Rangers’ sixth.
Rangers realised their dream of promotion against Leeds United in front of 19,573 at Loftus Road, as a Paul Hart own goal sent the R’s back to the promise land after four years out.
The R’s secured the title, while beating nearest challengers Wolves (2-1) to finish ten points clear at the summit of the Second Division.
Meanwhile Middlesbrough finished the season in a disappointing 16th placed finish as they failed to bounce back to the top-flight at the first attempt.
Final Score: Queens Park Rangers 6-1 Middlesbrough
Queens Park Rangers: Hucker, Roeder, Dawes, Waddock, Hazell, Wicks, Micklewhite, Sealy, Allen, Flanagan, Gregory.
Middlesbrough: O’Hanlon, Nattrass, Sugrue, Baxter, Mowbray, Otto, Wood, Kennedy, Hankin, Shearer, Bell.
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