Football League Cup Quarter Final
Team: Parkes, Clement, Gillard, Hollins, McLintock, Webb, Thomas, Kelly, Masson, Bowles, Givens
After winning 2-0 at Upton Park in the previous round, Rangers were then scheduled to face Arsenal on 30th November 1976 at Loftus Road. However, the game ended up being played the following evening. Steve Curry’s match report appeared in the Daily Express the next morning:
‘Dave Webb’s wrinkled forehead, the broad platform for so many memorable Cup victories, put QPR into the last four of the League Cup against Arsenal last night.
Webb, a defensive veteran doing service for his third London club, would make an ideal central character for any strip cartoon, with his lively Cockney wit and pugnacious looks.
But Arsenal saw nothing funny in the positive header he produced in the 61st minute to provide Rangers with the kiss of life to end the deadlock of an intriguing, adrenalin-filled London derby.
Rangers, so often finding their familiar deliberate build-up floundering under the weight of Arsenal’s enthusiastic punching, were made to fight for their place in the semi-finals.
If their fans had expected a public exhibition of capital punishment, they were left with something nearer the Chinese water torture.
The opening moments of the game suggested Rangers would stage another carnival night, Stan Bowles slicing open the Gunners’ defence twice in the first two minutes. But Jimmy Rimmer beat out shots from Don Givens and Eddie Kelly to ensure this was to be no ritual massacre.
Arsenal quickly put a red alert out on Bowles, forcing him to spend the rest of the game more closely guarded than the Crown Jewels.
The wrestling then was restricted mainly to midfield. But if that is where the needle showed, there was always plenty of embroidery in attack.
Arsenal’s own anxieties filtered through in the fourth minute, when Sammy Nelson and Alan Ball almost came to blows in a shabby show of ill-temper. Arsenal having survived those hectic opening sorties from Rangers, fought back superbly.
But it was still slightly against the play when Arsenal took the lead in the 34th minute. Alan Ball robbed Dave Thomas on the right, fed Pat Rice making a run from the full-back position, and his shot was flicked on superbly by Stapleton into the corner of the net.
Arsenal should have finished it off in the 40th minute when Macdonald was fouled by Ian Gillard chasing a long Liam Brady ball into the Rangers penalty area. But from the spot, Ball saw his excellently-placed kick pushed away by the diving Phil Parkes.
Two minutes later, Rangers were level. A frantic goalmouth situation resulted in McLintock and Givens freeing Hollins on the left, as he pulled the ball back, Don Masson seemed to wait an agonisingly-long time before planting it past Rimmer’s left-hand.
Eddie Kelly, facing his old club for the first time, was cautioned by referee Clive Thomas for an over-enthusiastic tackle on Trevor Ross in the 58th minute.
But with the game now finely balanced, Webb produced his most significant contribution. A 61st minute corner, needlessly conceded by Peter Simpson on the right, was tapped by Kelly to Bowles and his curling left-foot centre was met squarely by Webb’s forehead to leave Rimmer no chance.
Mick Leach replaced Frank McLintock, who had a groin strain, in the 64th minute and Arsenal might have had a penalty 20 minutes from time when Stapleton appeared to be sandwiched between John Hollins and Dave Clement.’
Rangers went on to face Aston Villa in the semi-final.