QPR (2) – Liverpool (0) – ‘Bowles’ Delicate Skills Often Left the Liverpool Defenders Floundering (& Gerry Francis Scores MOTD’s Goal of the Season)

Team: Parkes, Clement, Gillard, Hollins, McLintock, Webb, Thomas, Francis, Masson, Bowles, Givens

Sub: Leach

Attendance: 27,113

The R’s faced Liverpool at Loftus Road on 16th August 1975 in the opening game of the season. Steve Stammers later filed the following match report:

‘Gerry Francis widely tipped as England’s next captain, got Queen’s Park Rangers off to a magnificent start to the season against Liverpool at Loftus Road this afternoon.

Two minutes before half-time, Francis combined with Stan Bowles and Don Givens to put Rangers in front.

But Rangers’ joy was tempered by an injury to close-season signing John Hollins, who limped off with a pulled hamstring.

Rangers appealed fiercely for a penalty in the first minute when Stan Bowles jinked round Phil Thompson.

As Bowles ran clear in the area, Thompson recovered and sent the Rangers striker tumbling. But referee John Yates gave a goal-kick to Liverpool.

Five minutes later Liverpool were saved by a superb tackle from £100,000 full-back Joey Jones. Don Givens pushed the ball past Ray Clemence, but Jones robbed him as he was about to shoot.

Liverpool retaliated straight away with a fierce angled-shot from Steve Heighway that Phil Parkes was happy to turn for a corner.

The other Liverpool full-back, Phil Neal, nearly conceded a goal in the 12th minute. He pushed a back-pass beyond Clemence, but the England goalkeeper recovered and dived on the ball before any Rangers player could pounce.

Dave Thomas and Stan Bowles caused Liverpool most trouble. Bowles’ delicate skills often left the Liverpool defenders floundering, while Thomas’ piercing runs had the Merseyside’s defence at full stretch.

Liverpool were not without their moments. Ian Callaghan blasted just over, and Terry McDermott had a header well saved by Parkes.

Gerry Francis tested Clemence with a shot from just inside the area, but Rangers’ hopes took a blow on the half-hour.

John Hollins, their £80,000 capture from Chelsea, limped off with a pulled hamstring, to be replaced by Mick Leach.

Rangers took the lead two minutes from half-time with a superb goal. Bowles put Francis through with a skilful flick. Francis played a one-two with Don Givens and ran on to beat Clemence.

The crowd were still buzzing from Francis’s brilliant goal when the second-half got off to a controversial start with two bookings in the first minute.

Rangers’ Frank McLintock was booked for bringing down John Toshack when the tall Welsh striker ran on to a Kevin Keegan pass.

Liverpool’s Peter Cormack followed him into the book for dithering at a free kick. Cormack argued too long that Bowles was not ten yards from the ball.

Rangers were certainly not shot-shy, and Thomas set up a chance for Don Masson that was hit just over the bar.

Liverpool twice threatened to cancel out Rangers’ lead and Kevin Keegan was at the hub of both moves. First, he cut past Dave Clement, but nobody was able to take advantage of his low, hard cross.

Then Ian Gillard obstructed Steve Heighway inside the area and Keegan cleverly tapped the ball to Neal – but Rangers cleared the full back’s cross.

Rangers scored again in the 74th minute when Mick Leach headed home a Francis cross.’

The R’s followed this up three days later with a 1-1 home draw against Aston Villa.

Steve Russell

(The caption for the above pic reads: ‘Gerry Francis and delighted QPR fans after he opened the scoring against Liverpool at Loftus Road. It turned out to be BBC TV’s “Goal of the Season”)