TERRY Venables’ QPR closed in on their return to the top flight at they travelled to Hillsborough to face Sheffield Wednesday.
Terry Venables’ QPR closed in on their return to the top flight at they travelled to Hillsborough to face Sheffield Wednesday.
Teams: Sheffield Wednesday v Queens Park Rangers
Date: Tuesday April 18, 1983
Competition: Football League Second Division
Venue: Hillsborough, Sheffield.
It had been a long old slog as QPR came into the final straight of the Second Division season with promotion firmly set in their sites since breaking into the top two before the turn of the year.
Venables had constructed a side worthy of challenging for the title with Terry Fenwick leading the younger players such as midfielder Gary Waddock into an exciting period for the club.
Striker Simon Stainrod had also been in fine form throughout the campaign as the R’s found their goalscoring touch to propel them to the summit.
Venables’ improvements could be charted back to late 1980 and after taking the job following the departure of Tommy Docherty he led them to an eighth placed finish.
The following season Rangers finished fifth, and the supporters felt that momentum was carrying them forward as the former R’s midfield hero led them to an FA Cup final against Tottenham Hotspur.
Coming into the clash with Wednesday Rangers had suffered only one defeat in 12, putting them into a commanding position at the top of the Second Division.
A blemish on their record was a 4-0 away defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers earlier in the season, and it would be Wolves that chased Rangers down in a bid for promotion.
Rangers’ home form was useful as they hit red-hot form in front of goal – 17 strikes coming in just four games at Loftus Road with wins over Middlesbrough (6-1), Rotherham United (4-0) and Charlton Atheltic (5-1).
They had some revenge to plot against the Owls however who inflicted a first home league defeat of the season for Rangers.
Wednesday themselves were part of the chasing pack looking to track down the promotion hopefuls, but it appeared their hopes were dying fast as QPR visited Hillsborough.
One home league win in their last five attempts didn’t help their cause, but welcome relief came in the shape of a cup thrashing of Burnley (5-0) at Hillsborough.
Jack Charlton’s Owls were indeed struggling with consistency after a win away a Bolton (2-0) was tempered with a home defeat by mid-table Barnsley (0-1).
Rangers made one change from the side that were held at home by Leicester City, with Gary Micklewhite replaced by stalwart defender Steve Wicks.
In their ranks Wednesday included a lesser-known striker called Gary Bannister, he was partnered by former QPR youngster Andy McCulloch in attack.
With Rangers looking to pick up three points and nothing more, this was never going to be a classic in front of a mediocre 11,000 crowd at Hillsborough, with the visitors conscious of their task.
Venables’ men were deploying an expert style of counter-attacking football, combined with some tempered defending and excellent use of the offside trap.
The home fans appeared riled by the tactics but it mattered not to Venables or QPR who broke with great gusto and vigour to hurt the Owls after soaking up the pressure.
The first half was rather a war of attrition but it was in the second 45 that the game came to light. Wednesday were now getting a head of steam, and this was where Rangers looked most dangerous.
Sheffield born Simon Stainrod was a former Sheffield United player, so it wasn’t difficult to see the relief around Hillsborough as he spurned an opportunity after Bob Bolder thwarted Mike Flanagan.
With 20 minutes remaining Rangers managed to bag the all important goal with Ian Dawes surging down the left flank before crossing for Tony Sealy.
Sealy expertly dummied the ball into the path of Flanagan who didn’t need a second opportunity on this occasion, slamming past Bolder from close range and leave Rangers but a point from promotion.
Barely four days later Rangers realised their dream of promotion in front of 19,573 at Loftus Road, as a Paul Hart own goal sent the R’s back to the promise land after four years out.
The R’s secured the title, while beating nearest challengers Wolves (2-1) to finish ten points clear at the summit of the Second Division.
Meanwhile Wednesday finished sixth and Jack Charlton resigned from his post after six years at the helm, he was replaced by former player Howard Wilkinson.
Final Score: Sheffield Wednesday 0-1 Queens Park Rangers
Sheffield Wednesday: Bolder, Shirtliff P., Williamson, Smith, Oliver, Shelton, Megson, Mills D. (Pearson 70), Bannister, McCulloch, Heard.
Queens Park Rangers: Hucker, Neill, Dawes, Waddock, Hazell, Fenwick, Wicks, Sealy, Stainrod, Flanagan, Gregory.
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