QUEENS Park Rangers had started the season in positive fashion as they prepared to host Preston North End.
Teams: Queens Park Rangers v Preston North End
Date: Saturday September 11, 1971
Competition: Football League Second Division
Venue: Loftus Road, London
The R's performances had picked up significantly after replacing former striker Les Allen with former Charlton Athletic man Gordon Jago.
Jago had come fresh from a management period in United States, initially with North American Soccer League side Baltimore Bays, before a brief stint with the national set-up.
He changed the club's fortunes dramatically at the back end of the 1970-71 season with only one defeat in ten games bolstering the R's league position.
The form continued into the new campaign as Jago's QPR thrashed Sheffield Wednesday (3-0) on the opening day, followed by a slender away defeat to Middlesbrough (2-3).
A draw at home to Millwall (1-1) along with a point at the County Ground against Swindon Town (0-0) was complemented with a fine 3-0 win over local rivals Fulham at Craven Cottage.
Central to this form was striker Rodney Marsh, who following on from his 21 goals last season, had four goals in the R's opening three games.
Preston could look to a similar start with only one defeat coming against bitter-rivals Burnley at home (1-3). Victories at home over Fulham (2-0) and Oxford United (1-0) saw them into the top half in the early offing.
Jago made one change from the side that were held to a draw by Swindon Town with Gerry Francis reintroduced to the side at the expense of Barry Salvage. There was a rare appearance on the bench for Mick McGovern with Ray Seary dropping out.
The Lilywhites were on a run of five away games without defeat and started positively at Loftus Road. Alan Ball senior's side had a lead as early as the second minute when Bobby Ham was quick on the rebound to beat Phil Parkes from close range.
Rangers levelled matters on the half hour with 21-year-old forward Andy McCulloch scoring the deserved goal as the hosts went on to dominate the game.
Only Preston keeper John Brown was keeping the R's at bay into the second period with a string of excellent close-range stops to deny the red-hot strike force of QPR.
Indeed the second-choice stopper denied both McCulloch and Marsh on several separate occasions to keep the scores level at Loftus Road.
Eventually though the R's broke through with winger Frank Saul, for whom the R's paid Southampton £40,000 the previous season, latching onto a Rodney Marsh centre to roll home the winner.
It was no less than Rangers deserved after a thoroughly dominant home display, and this was reflected in manager Jago's comments after the final whistle: "If that's their number two goalkeeper I'd hate to play against their number one," he said.
A run of 11 games without defeat at the back end of the season cemented Rangers' fourth placed finish a mere two points from promoted runners-up Birmingham City.
Preston slipped down the table after a positive start and finished 18th in the Second Division, before eventually succumbing to relegation a couple of seasons later in 1974.
A moment in history was made in the second half of the season at the R's were the first to advertise a football match on television, a friendly against West Bromwich Albion that attracted a crowd of 7,087.
Final Score: Queens Park Rangers 2-1 Preston North End