QUEENS Park Rangers visited the Manor Ground with Oxford United flying high near the peak of the Second Division.
Queens Park Rangers visited the Manor Ground with Oxford United flying high near the peak of the Second Division.
Teams: Oxford United v Queens Park Rangers
Date: Wednesday October 21, 1970
Competition: Football League Division Two
Venue: Manor Ground, Oxford
Rangers travelled to the Manor Ground in better spirits after an initial period of despair in W12, the R`s bounced back to dish out a couple of hammerings in the build up to the U`s clash.
Birmingham City and Orient both felt the wrath of Rodney Marsh, as the striker bagged a brace along with Ian Morgan in a 5-1 victory over the O`s, while Marsh also hit a hatrick against the Blues in a 5-2 home victory.
Rangers away form was poor coming into the fixture with only one win coming away from Loftus Road so far in the campaign, goals from Leach and Saul dispatching of Blackburn Rovers 2-0. Since then their away form was epitomised by the 6-2 thrashing by Middlesbrough at Ayresome Park.
The U`s could call upon 31-year-old skipper Ron Atkinson, the uncompromising wing-half had led the United revival from the Southern League to the Second Division, overseeing the transformation from non-league Headington United to prospective First Division candidates.
Despite their lofty positioning in the league, Oxford were in sporadic form heading into the clash at the Manor Ground. Away victories over Bolton Wanderers (2-0) and Bristol City (4-0) were tempered by a slender home defeat to Millwall (3-2), something which scuppered their progress to the top.
Two victories in five home fixtures at the Manor Ground wasn`t quite what boss Gerry Summers had in mind, but their away form more than made up for their home shortcomings, with Millwall and Middlesbrough adding to the two scalps mentioned above.
Off the back of back what an excellent victory over Birmingham City, manager Les Allen made only one change, with fledgling forward Andy McCulloch making way for fellow youngster Martyn Busby in attack.
United were surprise promotion candidates in the Second Division but proved they were there on merit in rapid fashion when defender John Shuker handed them an early lead at the Manor Ground.
The U`s were looking good value for the lead as a weary Rangers laboured and struggled to break down a resilient Oxford rearguard. Half time came and went with the hosts in control of the encounter.
It took the midas touch of QPR boss Les Allen to kick Rangers into life when he introduced Gerry Francis shortly after the hour mark in place of the aforementioned Busby, in a move which saw Terry Venables move forward to support the attack.
QPR quickly got into their stride and were rewarded for their renewed effort and vigour when centre-half Rodney Smithson accidentally played in Venables with a suicidal backpass, and the midfielder blasted past forlorn stopper Mick Kearns.
It`s true that goals breed confidence and Venables strike transformed Rangers, who started to play some excellent football. Rodney Marsh laid on a glorious chance for Mike Ferguson who didn`t disappoint in front of goal to turn the game on its head in a matter of minutes.
Three goals in ten minutes were completed when Ian Morgan`s header was blocked on the line, and substitute Francis reacted fastest to notch a goal on his return to the side to win the game 3-1.
Oxford`s tag of surprise promotion contenders didn`t last too long, as their star began to wane. They finished a respectable 14th in the Second Division, three points and a place improvement on the previous campaign.
QPR finished two places and two points worse off than in 1969-70, ending up in 11th with Gordon Jago taking over from former forward Les Allen as Rangers searched for their next Alec Stock figure to take them to the next level.
Final Score: Oxford United 1-3 Queens Park Rangers
Oxford United: Kearns, Lucas, Shuker, Smithson, Clarke, Evanson, Sloan, Atkinson G, Skeen, Clayton, Atkinson R.
Queens Park Rangers: Parkes, Watson, Gillard, Clement, Hunt, Hazell, Morgan, Venables, Busby (Francis 63), Marsh, Ferguson.
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