RANGERS had a welcome break from First Division action as they travelled north to Blackpool in the FA Cup.
Rangers had a welcome break from First Division action as they travelled north to Blackpool in the FA Cup.
Teams: Nottingham Forest v Queens Park Rangers
Date: Saturday October 28, 1989
Competition: Barclays League Division One
Venue: City Ground, Nottingham
Trevor Francis’ Rangers entered the new season with great prosperity after a positive ninth placed finish last time out, and indeed an opening day win over Crystal Palace did little to quell ambition.
The positive start soon began to wane as Rangers only had one win in nine games under Francis while failing to score in five of those games.
Couple this with five defeats and Rangers were looking precarious at the wrong end of the First Division table as they travelled to Nottingham Forest.
The fixture itself marked Francis’ return to the City Ground to face former boss Brian Clough – the manager made Francis the first million pound player, and thus helped the Reds to back to back European Cup wins.
Rangers couldn’t be further from the finished article as they looked to stop the rot and a fourth successive defeat at the City Ground.
Losses to Tottenham Hotspur (2-3), Southampton (1-4) and Charlton Athletic (0-1) mean that Rangers languished at the wrong end of the table prior to facing Clough’s Forest.
In comparison the Reds were doing well despite – like Rangers – having a heavy fixture congestion owing to League Cup games. Only three defeats had been incurred by Forest all season in the League so far.
Back to back wins against Coventry City (2-0) and Wimbledon (3-1) helped bolster Clough’s league position in the top half as they hosted QPR on a wet and blustery afternoon.
Rangers made two changes from the side that were defeated by Charlton at Loftus Road, with Dannix Maddix and Nigel Spackman making way for Paul Parker and Peter Reid.
Forest could call upon Lee Chapman and the manager’s son Nigel Clough to lead their line with Gary Crosby bustling forward to support from midfield.
Forest drew first blood when Steve Hodge’s hopeful long-ball found its way to Gary Crosby over the top – evading the offside trap he took a touch before firing beyond David Seaman.
Rangers managed to keep the score to one and after the break exhumed class on the counter-attack, with Andy Sinton the key tormentor.
He cut inside full-back Brian Laws after some neat passing play, and fired an unstoppable curling effort past the outstretched dive of Steve Sutton – a stunning solo effort from the R’s winger to draw Rangers level.
Later in the second period Forest made their pressure pay as a misguided header by Alan McDonald saw Hodge feed Clough, who in turn clipped over the top for Chapman.
The forward took a neat touch before rolling right footed past Seaman, who got a touch on the ball but merely slowed its progress towards the back of the net.
Just when the game seemed done an dusted Rangers snatched a crucial point at the death to stop the rot and earn themselves a crucial point.
Another hopeful long ball saw Colin Clarke intelligently touch inside for substitute Paul Wright, who wasted little time in lashing a venomous drive beyond Sutton to snatch Rangers a point.
Trevor Francis was quick to praise his substitute after the game: He’s an exceptionally good striker of the ball, and at 22, is going to be a very good acquisition for us.
‘I told the players before the start it was imperative we got a result here to stop the rot.’
It didn’t solve the problems behind the scenes at QPR as the aforementioned Spackman, acting as the club’s PFA representative publicly, voiced his concerns about the way manager Francis handled training and before long was given the short shrift by the R’s boss.
The board kept faith with Francis despite a disappointing start, and he managed to steer his men to an 11th placed finish, with his side rallying after the turn of the new year.
Clough’s Forest finished a disappointing ninth in the table, four points in front of QPR while Liverpool went on to storm the league by nine points from Aston Villa.
Final Score: Nottingham Forest 2-2 Queens Park Rangers
Nottingham Forest: Sutton, Laws, Pearce, Walker, Wilson, Hodge, Crosby, Parker, Clough, Chapman, Gaynor.
Queens Park Rangers: Seaman, Channing, Sansom, Parker, McDonald, Barker, Bardsley, Reid, Clarke, Rutherford (Wright), Sinton.
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