League Division One
Team: Parkes, Clement, Gillard, Hollins, McLintock, Webb, Thomas, Kelly, Masson, Bowles, Givens
On 11th September 1976, Rangers took on Aston Villa at Loftus Road. James Mossop later filed the following match report:
‘Everyone rose to their feet, the applause refused to die, and a goal straight from the legends of Lawton, Liddell and Charlton was written against the most unlikely scoring hero of all – and that tall, dark, quiet man of the Rangers defence, Dave Clement.
It claimed the points for Rangers and shattered Villa who had arrived in West London with the bouncy smile of the undefeated and cocky stride of First Division leaders.
If Rangers retain the pace of this match, then their UEFA Cup engagement against the Norwegians of Brann Bergen at Loftus Road on Wednesday will be taken in their stride. Clement’s goal said everything….
After 56 minutes of memorable football, with the score resting uneasily at 1-1, Clement made the telling intrusion that confirmed him as the match-winner from the deep.
On the half-way line, wide to the right, he touched the ball round a Villa forward and set off on a direct, fleet-footed run for goal. His team-mates moved for positions in space as he cut a swathe through the Villa defence.
Full tilt, he approached the penalty area, prodding the ball through to Don Givens and galloping on to take a neatly-flicked return in full stride.
The right-footer he released carried so much power that even that toughest of goalkeepers, John Burridge, might well have been mortally wounded had he crossed its path!
It was Rangers’ final reply to a stunning goal from that centre-forward who is suddenly the pride of the Midlands and Scotland, Andy Gray.
Gray scored after his team had suffered a colossal scare when his fellow countryman, Gordon Smith, miscued a lofted back-pass against his crossbar.
That error came at the beginning of the pressure Rangers put on the Villa defence. But in the 29th minute, Villa jumped ahead from a break-out.
In the centre-circle, Andy Gray helped the ball on its way to Dennis Mortimer, who had drifted to the left. In the time it took Mortimore to control the ball and release a centre, Graywas at the far-post, climbing to beat a downward header past Phil Parkes.
The response was instant. There was Frank McLintockdriving against Villa’s post. Next there was Don Givens working himself an opening on his right-foot, switching to the left and thudding a drive into Burridge’s body.
The ball re-bounded for Don Masson, who, with the coldness of a hired assassin, shot for goal and leaving three defenders sprawled on the turf.
Clement’s magic sealed the victory.
Afterwards, the dialogue was good natured. Said Sexton: “We played exceptionally well up to the last 20 minutes. We had them under terrific pressure and made a lot of chances.”
“I was extremely pleased with Eddie Kelly’s debut considering he has had only three reserve team matches this season.”