‘Without Breaking Stride, Givens Moved in & Hammered the Ball Past Wilson with his Left-Foot’- QPR (2) – Arsenal (0)

Team: Parkes, Clement, Hazell, Venables, Mancini, McLintock, Thomas, Francis, Leach, Bowles, Givens

Sub: Busby

Attendance: 29,115

Bertie Mee’s Arsenal side arrived at Loftus Road on 27th October 1973. John Oakley later filed the following match report:

‘Don Givens scored an opportunist goal to give Queen’s Park Rangers the lead at Loftus Road this afternoon. And no one could dispute their superiority.

Rangers were faster, more determined and certainly far more aggressive than the Gunners, who spent much of the time in defence.

The Gunners were almost completely outplayed during the first 30 minutes, but, despite having almost constant pressure, Rangers failed to create one clear-cut chance.

For much of this period the Gunners persisted in packing nine and sometimes ten players in their own penalty area. Bob Wilson was continually plied with back-passes from all angles.

Much of Arsenal’s tackling was none too gentle and they repeatedly conceded free kicks against fast-moving Rangers.

To add to their troubles, Arsenal had Rice lectured by the referee for holding the ball after the home team had been awarded a free kick. And Eddie Kelly also received a rebuke for disputing a throw-in.

Yet Arsenal rarely looked in trouble, for Rangers persisted in lobbing balls into the box, where Brendan Batson and Peter Simpson had mastery in the air.

Arsenal brought in 17-year-old Richard Powling for his league debut when John Radford failed a late test.

But the youngster had a quiet first-half, though he did send in one fierce shot which former Arsenal skipper, Frank McLintock, blocked with his head.

Arsenal’s robust tactics began early when Thomas was scythed down on the edge of the box in the third minute and needed attention.

With only Charlie George up-front for Arsenal, Rangers were allowed to attack and, after Mick Leach had headed over from close range, Don Givens made a spectacular effort. He raced on to a bouncing ball, lobbed it over Batson’s head, and hit it on the volley only two feet wide, with Wilson scrambling across his goal.

Stan Bowles had a chance when clear on the left, but instead of moving in closer he shot well off-target.

Rangers had a series of free kicks well inside the Arsenal half, but Wilson and Simpson prevented them from taking advantage.

Arsenal at last began to open out and after 30 minutes had the best chance of the match when George Armstrong beat Dave Clement and Mick Leach in the penalty area. He was left with only Phil Parkes to beat, but the goalkeeper beat down his shot and scrambled the ball away.

Five minutes from the interval, Bob McNab was booked for a remark to the referee, and right on half-time Arsenal almost scored.

Eddie Kelly took a free kick just outside the box and lobbed it on to the bar from where it rebounded to Charlie George, who headed wide.

Arsenal looked dangerous at the start of the second-half, when George broke down the middle and passed out to the unmarked Pat Rice. Before Rice could gain full control, Tony Hazell stormed in to dispossess him.

Batson had his name taken after 53 minutes for a foul on Parkes, but then Rangers regained command.

They surged forward to snatch the lead in the 55th minute. Mick Leach had a shot from the edge of the box, but the ball struck Batson and fell in the path of Givens. Without breaking stride Givens moved in and hammered the ball past Wilson with his left-foot.

Three minutes later, the rampant Rangers almost scored again when Bowles beat two men inside the penalty area but shot across the face of the goal.

Parkes made a brilliant save from a Kelly volley as Arsenal strove for an equaliser, but in the 69th minute Rangers struck again.

A bad back-pass by Batson had Bob Wilson in trouble and Gerry Francis raced in to hook the ball away from Wilson. Thomas, following up, then had his shot partially blocked by Wilson, but the ball ran loose, and Stan Bowles drove it into the empty net.

Ray Kennedy was unlucky when he sent a first-time effort inches wide, with Phil Parkes beaten.

But there was no stopping highly-elated Rangers. They kept pouring forward and made Arsenal look crude in comparison.

Nearing the end, the crowd roared with laughter when referee David Smith was struck in the face by the ball as Leach shot. The referee sank to his knees to receive attention before continuing.

Dave Thomas was booked four minutes from the end after a dispute with Peter Storey.’

Rangers followed up this victory seven days later with a 2-1 win at the Baseball Ground.

Steve Russell