15th September 1979: Swansea City (1) – QPR (2)

Team: Woods, Shanks, Gillard, McCreery, Hazell, Roeder, Bowles, Goddard, Allen, Harkouk (Waddock), Burke

Attendance: 16,000

The R’s had lost their first two away league games of the season, but on 15th September 1979 they recorded a 2-1 win at Vetch Field. John Burgum wrote the following match report for the local newspaper:

‘Defender Nigel Stevenson made two critical errors of judgement and they were enough to send Swansea City crashing to another defeat against Queen’s Park Rangers at Vetch Field.

Swansea, boosted by a goal supplied from the head of Jeremy Charles, surrendered it all in six nightmare minutes as the club suffered their first home league defeat since Boxing Day. Swansea welcomed back Danny Bartley after injury, but were still without the services of injured strikers John Toshack and Robbie James. Nigel Stevenson retained his place in the side after coming on as a first-half substitute in the 5-0 defeat at Luton last week. Young striker Mark Baker acted as substitute.
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Tommy Docherty’s expensively assembled Queen’s Park Rangers team included recent recruits Bob Hazell from Wolverhampton, and winger Steve Burke from Nottingham Forest.

Swansea made a promising start, Callaghan sweeping a cross-field pass to Bartley who made the most of a rebound to float in a cross, but Roeder reached it before the challenging Charles could make contact. Swansea kept up the early pressure, and should have been a goal ahead inside five minutes. Attley’s cross was nodded down by Waddle into the path of the advancing Craig who somehow lost his footing and mishit a close range shot with his favourite left foot.

It was Swansea’s turn to defend when Bowles moved impressively forward, but when Harkouk slipped inside Stevenson, he drove his shot wide of the post. Almost immediately several of Swansea’s noisy supporters spilled over the enclosure fencing under the West Stand, and attempted to head for the neighbouring gallery of opposing fans. But the Police moved in swiftly and ejected the handful of troublemakers without disrupting what had already become a fast and fluid match.

That point was graphically underlined when Charles, playing upfront alongside the fit-again Waddle, caused panic in the Queen’s Park Rangers defence as Swansea threatened to break the deadlock. Hazell scooped the ball from the feet of Charles, and when Waddle pushed it back into a packed goalmouth, Swansea felt there was some justification in appealing for a penalty when Charles was brought down by Hazell. Referee Hamil was having none of it, and Queen’s Park Rangers quickly moved back on to the attack following that let-off.

A long, deep cross found Crudgington groping in vain, but the Swansea defence were quick to cover up the handling error. Queen’s Park Rangers stimulated by Goddard and Bowles in midfield, provided the Swansea defence with plenty of opportunity to show the recovery from last week’s five-goal beating was now complete.

The gifted Bowles chipped another well-directed pass and when Goddard seized onto the chance Swansea were forced in to hurried activity to twice block shots from the 19-year-old.

Swansea not short of running seemed to lack the creative finesse to breach a defence which looked none too confident once the determined Charles started to probe for openings.

Ten minutes before the interval, Queen’s Park Rangers almost gave Swansea a lesson in the art of finishing when McCreery broke unchallenged down the left flank, and delivered a pass which skidded across the face of the goal from goalkeeper Crudgington and the outstretched foot of the busy Allen.

Still, Swansea on the evidence of the opening 45 minutes, showed enough determination and character to trouble Queen’s Park Rangers even further. Half-time: Swansea City 0 – Queen’s Park Rangers 0.
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Swansea began where they left off in such aggressive mood and within four minutes had created a superbly worked goal. Callaghan very much the architect in Swansea’s midfield, pumped a high ball into the goalmouth, Waddle nodded it forward and CHARLES connected with a brave diving header which completely beat the goalkeeper. It was the goal of the season for the versatile Charles, well used playing as an attacking spearhead after a first season when he scored 26 goals as a striker.

It was just the tonic Swansea needed and it arrived as fitting reward for the energy and zeal which they had injected into the first-half’s proceedings. Swansea despite the advantage of being a goal in front, were still not making the fullest use of the opportunities they created. Most of them came from the left flank, where Craig and Bartley were operating so successfully, but with Charles and Waddle waiting impatiently for the service, Hazell and Roeder always got there fractionally ahead.

Out of the blue, Queen’s Park Rangers equalised with a well-rehearsed free kick. Stevenson was penalised for pushing McCreery just outside the area, and right on the bye-line. Bowles, expected to drift it into Swansea’s packed goalmouth, suddenly changed his mind and steered it wide to BURKE who hit it first time into the roof of the net to give the helpless Crudgington no hope of saving it.

Swansea’s immediate reaction was to pull off midfield player Mahoney and push young substitute striker Mark Baker into the attack in the hope of regaining the lead almost as rapidly as they had lost it. But the arrival of Baker did not have the desired effect and within six minutes Swansea, on top for so long, found themselves trailing.

But it was the manner in which Swansea presented their opponents with the lead which was obviously going to provoke a great deal of after-match dressing room debate. Bowles, instrumental in setting up the equaliser, chipped a delicate pass forward, but before Allen could reach it STEVENSON hooked the ball off the back of his foot, and over the head of the advancing Crudgington.

It had all turned sour for Swansea, and despite a belated rally, they were left to reflect on six unhappy minutes, when they handed their opponents two points which had at one stage hardly seemed likely.’

Jeremy Charles later joined the R’s in November 1983 for ¬£80,000. He then moved on to Oxford United in February 1985 and was to score one of their goals the following year in the 1986 Milk Cup Final.

Steve Russell