STRUGGLING Queens Park Rangers travelled to Molineux to face Wolverhampton Wanderers in a bid to kick-start their season.
Teams: Wolverhampton Wanderers v Queens Park Rangers
Date: Saturday October 26, 1974
Competition: Football League Division One
Venue: Molineux, Wolverhamton.
It was Rangers second season back in the top flight as they sought to build on a positive finish first time out. Under recently departed boss Gordon Jago the R`s had not only achieved promotion to the top tier, but stayed there in comfortable fashion – finishing eighth in the First Division.
Recently however Jago had departed W12 in acrimonious fashion, falling out with chairman Jim Gregory. For the next few games the caretaker team of Stan Anderson and Frank Sibley attempted to steer Rangers through some troubled times.
While Jago departed for Millwall, Rangers appointed former Chelsea boss Dave Sexton to the post, charged with forging a side capable of challenging the higher echelons of the top tier.
Sexton`s reign had got off to a disappointing start with Rangers losing at home to Liverpool (1-0) after Anderson and Sibley had guided the R`s to an impressive draw away at Arsenal (2-2).
Wolves by comparison were in somewhat sporadic form but were highly effective at home. Their form at Molineux was commendable as they dispatched of Newcastle (4-2) and Carlisle (2-0) along with Porto in the UEFA Cup (3-1).
Rangers made one change from the side that were defeated at home to Liverpool as John Beck made way for Tony Hazell. The formidable duo of Frank McLintock and David Webb once again linked up at the centre of defence with Don Rogers and Stan Bowles leading the line for Rangers.
Wolves had a useful forward pairing of their own with Peter Withe and Wolves` top scorer for the previous season John Richards looking to break down a stubborn Rangers rearguard. They were accompanied by former Manchester City wide man David Wagstaffe as part of a potent front-line for the hosts.
Rangers had their resistant back-line to thank for keeping the hosts at bay in the opening exchange. Webb, McLintock and Hazell were all in fine form to deny Wolves with Phil Parkes particularly outstanding between the sticks.
Eventually hard-working QPR reaped the rewards for soaking up vast amounts of pressure and playing some slick counter-attacking football. Dave Clement directed a defensive header straight back into the heart of the hosts` area and Eire winger Don Givens was on hand to dispatch just after the half hour mark.
Rangers came out of their shell in the second period to stun Wolves with a second, Don Rogers` carved out a cultured cross from the right and Givens was on hand once again to power his header home for his fifth goal of the campaign.
Bowles and Rogers were beginning to flourish up front for QPR with a succession of neat combinations and touches the likes of which had not been seen since Rodney Marsh pulled on a Rangers shirt – and in the end the R`s were looking good value for an away win.
There were some nervy moments towards the end of the fixture when midfielder Ken Hibbitt converted from the penalty spot. The midfielder signed from Bradford Park Avenue shot to fame earlier on in the campaign when he bagged all four goals in the aforementioned victory over Newcastle United – it was he who was felled for the spot kick which was duly dispatched.
Rangers clung on for the victory in a second half performance which club-captain Gerry Francis hailed as“The best this season.”. It was only Rangers second away win of the campaign with Dave Sexton proclaiming “Drinks for all!”
The R`s finished in 11th place in the First Division in what was seen as a period of transition for the club. It was a place and three points in front of Bill McGarry`s Wolves who themselves finished in the same position as the 1973-74 season – 12th place.
Final Score: Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-2 Queens Park Rangers
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Pierce, Palmer, Parkin, Bailey, Munro, McAlle, Hibbitt, Powell, Richards, Withe (Sunderland 82), Wagstaffe.
Queens Park Rangers: Parkes, Clement, Gillard, Hazell, McLintock, Webb, Thomas, Francis, Rogers, Bowles, Givens.