PROMOTION chasing QPR looked to boost their title hopes as they travelled to Deepdale, the home of Preston North End.
Teams: Preston North End v Queens Park Rangers
Date: Saturday February 23, 1980
Competition: Football League Division Two
Venue: Deepdale, Preston.
Tommy Docherty`s Queens Park Rangers were looking to regain their Premier League status at the first opportunity after being relegated under the guidance of Steve Burtenshaw. Docherty was hoping that his second spell at Rangers would live longer in the memory than a stormy month under Jim Gregory back in November 1968.
His return to Rangers followed a disappointing couple of seasons that saw Frank Sibley and Alec Stock take charge of team affairs before former Arsenal coach Burtenshaw ultimately saw the R`s to a relegation.
A new season brought renewed optimism to the fans at Loftus Road with Rangers entering the 1980s positively placed in the second tier.
Preston also started the season in positive fashion with World Cup legend Nobby Stiles looking to build upon the Lilywhites seventh placed finish in the second division.
Rangers came into the fixture in sixth place with only one defeat in five games coming away at West Ham United (2-1). The R`s had to hold their nerve after nearly letting a four goal lead slip at home to Oldham Athletic, but eventually saw out the game 4-3.
Mid-table Preston North End had only lost two games at home at the time of Rangers` visit and it was their form at Deepdale that kept them from plummeting into the relegation mire after losing four of their last five on their travels.
QPR named an unchanged an unchanged side from the nail-biting clash against Oldham Athletic the week previous, with Bob Hazell and Steve Wicks once again partners at the centre of defence. Clive Allen and Paul Goddard were proving another of Rangers` formidable partnerships as they once again led the forward line.
Preston had the firepower of record signing Steve Elliott for whom they paid Nottingham Forest £95,000 for towards the end of the 1978-79 season. Alongside him was youth product Willie Naughton as England legend Stiles hoped for a much needed home win.
The best-laid plans of the Lilywhites boss were left in ruins as Rangers took an early lead at Deepdale. The move began as Tony Currie took the ball from the aforementioned Naughton before pinging a long pass for Goddard to race onto down the right.
The Rangers youth product took possession of the ball before firing a low cross into the heart of the area where Clive Allen was waiting to net his 26th goal of the season past a forlorn Roy Tunks.
The visitors soon doubled their advantage with another well-worked goal involving the youthful exuberance of free-scoring Allen. Steve Burke`s left wing cross found the young striker in space on the far post, he nonchalantly touched it back for Glenn Roeder to hammer the ball into the top corner.
It was Tony Currie that would steal the show for QPR with a breath-taking display of passing from midfield creating chances for the R`s youthful front-line. It was he who helped finish the game as a spectacle from a set piece after Gordon Coleman felled David McCreery on the edge of the area.
The former Sheffield and Leeds United midfielder hooked the ball over onlooking defenders for Goddard to glance home with consummate ease.
Rangers finished in fifth place with 42 points, a mere six points off eventual winners Leicester City. The R`s progress stuttered as they drew six games from their final ten fixtures to finish narrowly short.
Preston recovered towards the end of the campaign to finish a respectable tenth place, but the luck didn`t hold out to the following season as the Lilywhites were relegated to the third tier. Styles was subsquently replaced by none other than Tommy Docherty who had parted ways with QPR for the second time mid-way through the 1980-81 season.
Final Score: Preston North End 0-3 Queens Park Rangers
Preston North End: Tunks, Taylor (Houston), McIteer, Doyle, Anderson, Blackley, Bell, Coleman, Elliott, Naughton, Bruce.
Queens Park Rangers: Woods, Shanks, Gillard, McCreery, Hazell, Wicks, Goddard, Roeder, Allen, Currie, Burke.