RANGERS were England`s front runners as they travelled to The Dell to face Southampton.
Teams: Southampton v Queens Park Rangers
Date: Saturday August 29, 1987.
Competition: Barclays Football League Division One.
Venue: The Dell, Southampton
See Also: QPR 4-0 Southampton – 24-03-84.
QPR fans could hardly believe their luck as they proudly sat atop of the Football League. Having finished 16th in the previous season Jim Smith`s R`s got off to a barnstorming start in the 1987-88 season with the defence at the forefront of the positives.
Alan McDonald and Paul Parker sat in the centre of defence being flanked by attacking full backs Wayne Fereday and Mark Dennis. This defence had yet to concede a goal in the First Division with three games gone.
Thumping wins over West Ham United (3-0) and Arsenal (2-0) helped propel the R`s to the summit of the First Division, that along with Gary Bannister`s two goals meant that expectations were high as Rangers travelled to the Dell.
The Saints had drawn a couple of games at home to Manchester United and away to local rivals Portsmouth, results which sandwiched their first win of the campaign against Norwich City at Carrow Road (1-0).
Rangers one change from the victory over Arsenal at Loftus Road with Ian Dawes coming in for former Southampton man Mark Dennis who was suffering with shock and a swollen knee after a car crash two days previous.
David Seamen sitting behind the aforementioned back four with the versatile Terry Fenwick playing as a sweeper. Kevin Brock and Martin Allen linked up in the centre of midfield as the R`s punted for a three pronged attack consisting of Bannister, Dean Coney and John Byrne.
Southampton lined up with Tim Flowers in goals with a central defensive partnership of Jimmy Case and Kevin Bond. Andy Townsend linked up with Glen Cockerill in midfield while Colin Clarke partnered Gordon Hobson in attack.
The R`s were struggling to make as much of an impact on the game as they had in previous encounters with 15,000 at the Dell making playing conditions challenging for the R`s players.
They kept plugging away at the target with Tim Flowers in outstanding form to deny forward John Byrne with an outstanding reflex save before thwarting Alan McDonald saving his far post header shortly before the hour mark.
Saints threw on a couple of subs in live-wire forward Danny Wallace and 18-year-old Matthew Le Tissier in place of Hobson and Townsend in a bid to take the fixture to the visitors. It proved a counter-productive move for Chris Nicholl`s men as Rangers took the lead.
A moment of madness from the reliant Tim Flowers handed the R`s a free kick in a prime position just outside the area. Flowers handled outside the area and Brock, Fenwick and Bannister stood over the ball.
It was summer signing Brock who hit an unstoppable effort in the 72nd minute to hand the visitors a valuable three points to march on at the summit of the Football League.
Rangers finished in fifth place three points behind fourth placed Everton but a staggering 22 points off Division One champions Liverpool, to whom they were defeated twice including a 4-0 loss at Anfield.
A poor run in the build up to Christmas put pay to the R`s realistic title prospects as they went without a win in nine games including a 4-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.
Southampton managed a 12th placed finish with Colin Clarke finishing the clubs top scorer for the second season running with 16 goals. A couple of seasons later Clarke made the move to Loftus Road.
Final Score: Southampton 0-1 Queens Park Rangers
Southampton: Flowers, Forrest, Statham, Case, Bond, Moore, Townsend (Le Tissier 62), Cockerill, Clarke, Hobson (Wallace 62), Baker.
Queens Park Rangers: Seaman, Fereday, Dawes, Parker, McDonald, Fenwick, Allen, Coney, Bannister, Byrne, Brock.
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