FOLLOWING the turn of the New Year, Rangers welcomed Preston North End, looking to build on their lofty position in the Second Division.
Teams: Queens Park Rangers v Preston North End
Date: Saturday 6th January, 1973
Competition: Football League Division Two.
Venue: Loftus Road, London.
Eighth placed Preston visited W12 in the hope of upsetting promotion favourites Queens Park Rangers, who had proved formidable on home turf.
Gordon Jago`s men had only suffered one defeat at Loftus Road all season as they sought to catch leaders Burnley, who sat four points in front of the R`s.
The Lilywhites were without a win in three away matches, and has the misery of a thumping 6-1 defeat at Carlisle United still resonating in their memory. Skippered by Graham Hawkins, Preston North End looked to inflict a rare defeat on QPR in wet and windy conditions in W12.
A depleted Rangers side had to shuffle their pack for the visit of the Lilywhites. With Dave Clement, Ian Gillard and skipper Terry Venables making way for Ron Hunt, Ian Watson and Mike Ferguson in a new look 4-2-4 formation.
The R`s ultimately prevailed on home soil once more, with makeshift striker Don Givens the spearhead for Rangers success. Francis went close just after the quarter of an hour mark as his shot skimmed Alan Kelly`s cross bar.
Rangers then reaped the rewards for some free-flowing football moments later as they took a well-deserved lead. Mike Ferguson`s searching ball over the top found Givens in space. He raced clear of the offside trap before drawing the goalkeeper and slotting in off the far post. A classy goal to epitomise Rangers` performance.
Ferguson was instrumental in further goals for Givens and Francis to make the scoreline 3-0 to QPR over Alan Ball senior`s Lilywhites. A convincing win which The Sunday Express described as:
“A victory of the qualities of open, attacking football over a team that chose to illustrate the most dour depressing and unadventurous of tactics.”
Preston North End chose to replace Alan Ball senior with England and Manchester United legend Bobby Charlton, but ultimately they only finished a point about the second division drop zone. The Lilywhites slender point margin saw Huddersfield Town and Brighton & Hove Albion relegated.
In what turned out to be contrasting fortune, Rangers managed to kick on and achieve promotion from the Second Division. A clear 11-point margin between the R`s and third placed Aston Villa saw them through canter to promotion. They came in only a point behind Champions Burnley, with a better goal average.
Final Score: Queens Park Rangers 3-0 Preston North End
QPR: Parkes, Hazell, Watson, Leach (Salvage 53), Mancini, Hunt, Ferguson, Francis, Thomas, Bowles, Givens.
Preston North End: Kelly, Ross, McNab, Bird, Hawkins, Connor, Wilson (Morley 77), Spark, McIlmoyle, Tarbuck, Bruce.
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