QUEENS Park Rangers hosted Sheffield Wednesday with both sides` seasons winding down to a mediocre conclusion.
Teams: Queens Park Rangers v Sheffield Wednesday
Date: Tuesday April 6, 1971
Competition: Football League Division Two
Venue: Loftus Road, London.
With both sides languishing in mid-table there was merely pride to play for as Wednesday and Rangers clashed on a chilly evening in W12.
Following four games without a win Rangers were starting to look over their shoulder as the relegation race began to hot up beneath them. Two timely wins put pay to any talk of relegation were victorious at Watford`s Vicarage Road (2-1) before handing out a sound thumping to rock-bottom Bolton Wanderers (4-0).
Rodney Marsh had become instrumental to Rangers fortunes, hitting five goals in those two games alone. This quickly made him the subject of interest from clubs in higher leagues all seeking to add the charismatic striker to their forward line.
Wednesday were getting by on their home form alone it seemed, as they were without a defeat at Hillsborough since October. However the Owls could point to their poor away form as the reason they were not challenging for silver wear in the second division.
They were without an away win in ten matches a run which also stretched back to October 1970 with their six most recent away games all ending in defeat at Cardiff (4-0), Watford (3-0), Middlesbrough (1-0), Leicester (1-0), Millwall (1-0) and Blackburn Rovers (3-2).
Rangers were forced into one change from the side that defeated Bolton handsomely only three days previous. Ron Hunt withdrew through injury prompting Gordon Jago to hand 18-year-old defender Ian Evans his full debut alongside Tony Hazell – who duly took the captains armband.
Wednesday sporting the Tangerine shirts named home grown duo Mike Prendergast and 19-year-old David Sunley as their strike force along with former West Ham United man John Sissons – a winner of three cup winners medals in his time at Upton Park.
Rangers laid siege to the visitors goal with custodian Peter Grummitt the man to thank from a Wednesday perspective making several point blank saves to thwart the R`s.
Six players in the Wednesday line-up were 21 and under and eventually the experience of Rangers told – the opening goal coming little under ten minutes before half time.
Whenever Rodney Marsh received the ball, the Owls had three men surrounding him – not allowing him the freedom of expression that had been Bolton`s downfall just days earlier. However some fine interplay between Marsh and his strike partner Ferguson eked out a gap for the highly-rated forward to slam home on the volley.
Wednesday were on the ropes and Rangers moved in for the kill in the second period. Goals were surely a matter of time as Grummitt pulled off further heroics to deny Venables and Clement and the visiting rearguard continued to wilt under the pressure of the host`s attacks.
Rodney Marsh managed to find himself a brief moment of space to rather uncharacteristically head over the cross bar – but it mattered little to him and Rangers who had surely now eased any lingering relegation fears with a confidence boosting victory.
Rangers finished the season in 11th place, going unbeaten in the final six games of the season to promise much for the following campaign.
Sheffield Wednesday finished a disappointing 15th overall but still evaded the drop zone by a comfortable distance. They finished the season in relatively poor form, without a win in seven matches – a run which included the defeat against QPR.
Final Score: Queens Park Rangers 1-0 Sheffield Wednesday
Queens Park Rangers: Parkes, Clement, Gillard, Venables, Evans, Hazell, Ferguson, Francis, Leach, Marsh, Salvage (McCulloch 17).
Sheffield Wednesday: Grummitt, Rodrigues, Burton, Thompson, Prophet, , Pugh, Potts, Craig, Sunley, Prendergast, Sissons.