One Day In History - Bristol City 1980-81
Mid-table Queens Park Rangers travelled to struggling Bristol City in a bid to plunge the Robins further into the mire.
Teams: Bristol City v Queens Park Rangers
Date: Saturday February 21, 1981.
Competition: Football League Division Two.
Venue: Ashton Gate, Bristol.
Terry Venables` QPR looked to take their recent upsurge in form to Bristol where all was not well at Ashton Gate.
Victories over Cardiff City (2-0) and local rivals Chelsea (1-0) helped pushed the R`s away from harms way as they had initially struggled in the early stages.
Tommy Langley in particular was scoring goals with great regularity in 1981 following his move from Chelsea earlier in the season. Goals against the aforementioned Cardiff and Chelsea as well as Swansea City took his tally to nine for the season.
Bobby Houghton`s Bristol City had recently embarked on a positive run with a view to moving away from the Second Division trap door. Only one defeat in eight coming against Cambridge United (1-0), with six 0-0 draws in that run helping them to accumulate much-needed points.
Rangers made only one change from the side that drew at home to Notts County the previous week, and it was goalscoring defender Ernie Howe who had returned from a three month absence, that made way for the returning Steve Wicks.
Rovers could call upon the reliable Kevin Mabbutt to lead the forward line, and tricky winger Clive Whitehead in an able supporting role from the flank as they looked to take home advantage against a useful Rangers side.
All appeared bleak for Rangers in the early stages when stalwart defender Bob Hazell was forced to limp off in the opening ten minutes. Gary Waddock come on in his stead prompting Terry Fenwick to drop into the back four alongside the returning Wicks.
Rangers managed to keep the Robins top scorer Mabbutt out of harms way with their makeshift defence. It was Fenwick`s adaptability to drop into the defensive role and nullify City`s potent threat that would later see him come in for praise from manager Venables.
Into the second half and it was the substitute Waddock who did his manager proud with a thumping drive from distance following a half-hearted clearance in the Robins rearguard.
The free kick was swung in by set-piece specialist Tony Currie aimed in the direction of the towering Wicks, the ball was only half-cleared by Nicholls and duly fired home with a rasping volley by Gary Waddock from 25-yard. It handed Swedish stopper and former European Cup finalist Jan Möller no chance whatsoever.
Venables was full of praise for his side, but none more so than stand in central defender Terry Fenwick. He said: "We recovered so well from that early injury and we should have had several more goals. But while people will praise Waddock and Wicks, for me Fenwick was the man who showed what a true professional he is."
Rangers rounded off the campaign in a comfortable eighth place, in prime position to build for the following campaign. They finished seven points of promoted Swansea City, who went up along with Notts County and West Ham United.
The Robins were ultimately relegated along with their closest rivals, Bristol Rovers who finished bottom with a dismal 23 points. Also going down to the third tier were Preston North End who finished a place above City.
Final Score: Bristol City 0-1 Queens Park Rangers
Queens Park Rangers: Burridge, Shanks, Gillard, Fenwick, Wicks, Hazell (Waddock 9), Langley, King, Stainrod, Currie, Silkman.
Bristol City: Möller, Stevens, Hay, Aitken, Marshall, Nicholls, Tainton, Fitzpatrick, Mabbutt, Mann (Pritchard), Whitehead.
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