RANGERS hadn’t picked up a win in the First Division as yet in an indifferent beginning to the 1988-89 campaign.
Rangers hadn’t picked up a win in the First Division as yet in an indifferent beginning to the 1988-89 campaign.
Teams: Queens Park Rangers v Sheffield Wednesday
Date: Saturday September 17, 1988
Competition: Barclays League Division One
Venue: Loftus Road, London
Once again it was all change at Loftus Road with a newly-laid grass surface a way of not only securing a truer bounce, but at last getting the credit that QPR deserved, as the visitors’ excuses had now been eradicated.
The new season was tinged with sadness as chairman David Bullstrode passed away prior to the game with Sheffield Wednesday. The chairman wasn’t initially a popular figure owing to rumours of a merger, but he won supporters around with his dedication to the club.
It wasn’t ideal preparation for QPR as they headed into a game knowing they still required their first three points of the campaign and propel themselves into a more creditable position in the Barclays First Division table.
Jim Smith’s QPR had a fresh look to it despite the departure of John Byrne to French side Le Havre. Ossie Ardiles came in from Tottenham Hotspur while Simon Barker and Mark Stein were recruited from Blackburn Rovers and Luton Town respectively.
Wednesday were being led by Howard Wilkinson, and despite his modest Hillsborough playing career was now considered by many as a legend in the making after taking Wednesday up at the first attempt and steering them to a 5th-placed finish in 1986.
The Owls’ indiffferent start saw them win on the opening day against Luton Town (1-0) before picking up a creditable point at Nottingham Forest (1-1) but then losing narrowly at home to Coventry City (1-2). They were looking to retain the impetus from a positive away performance at the City Ground however.
Rangers’ early form had been poor in truth as they remained winless in the top flight for the current campaign. An opening day draw against Manchester United (0-0) was positive but back to back defeats against Southampton (0-1) at home and Norwich City (0-1) meant that the R’s were yet to hit the target.
To that end Smith made two changes from the side that were defeated at Carrow Road with Simon Barker and Dean Coney dropping out with Trevor Francis and Brian Law stepping into the fray against Wednesday.
A crowd of 8011 were in attendance at Loftus Road on a cloudy afternoon in West London. The stage was set for QPR to pick up their first goals and maximum of the campaign but in Wilkinson’s Wednesday they knew they had a tough task on their hands.
While the first half was understated and workman-like at times the R’s broke the deadlock courtesy of former England forward Trevor Francis as he looped a header home from a Wayne Fereday cross shortly before half time.
The lead was doubled in an eventful spell in the second period, after Tony Galvin claimed in vain for a spot-kick and Francis spurned a couple of opportunities, the most notable of which carved from the boots of Kevin Brock.
The goal eventually came as Francis dispatched a spot-kick for his brace and the fleet-footed Mark Stein continued to impress in attack. It was a game that had yielded a deserved three points, but nevertheless it was hard work for the battling Rangers.
The R’s didn’t dramatically improve over the course of the campaign, and a run of one win in 11 games saw them drop perilously towards the wrong end of the table, but a run of seven wins in nine propelled them to the safety of ninth.
Wednesday meanwhile parted company with Howard Wilkinson after five successful years at the helm, with Peter Eustace then Ron Atkinson seeing out the season at Hillsborough. The Owls rounded off the campaign in 15th.
Final Score: Queens Park Rangers 2-0 Sheffield Wednesday
Queens Park Rangers: Seaman, Law, Dennis, Parker, McDonald, Maddix, Allen, Francis, Fereday, Stein, Brock
Sheffield Wednesday: Pressman, Sterland, Worthington, Pearson, Madden, Cranson, Megson, Hirst, West, Jonsson, Galvin (Bradshaw).
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