Barker finally gets Francis off the mark at Luton - History
Monday, 13th Jul 2020 16:47 by Clive Whittingham
A scruffy goal from Simon Barker got QPR a much needed 1-0 win at Luton Town in September 1991 - Gerry Francis' first league win in charge at the ninth attempt.
Luton Town 0 Queens Park Rangers 1, Tuesday September 17, 1991, First Division
Don Howe’s Queens Park Rangers endured a biblical injury crisis in the autumn of 1990, losing Paul Parker, Alan McDonald and Danny Maddix from the centre of their defence all at once. They lost eight matches in a row as part of ten without a win, and then having snapped that run with a narrow home success against bottom of the league Sunderland went on to lose another two. Ten defeats, two draws, and one win from an unlucky 13 games.
Some good did come out of it though. Assistant manager Bobby Gould’s knowledge of lower divisions brought in Andy Tilson from Grimsby and Darren Peacock from Hereford to ease the centre half crisis – Peacock, in particular, was a big success story in Shepherd’s Bush and would later join Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle for £2.5m.
As players came back to fitness the season improved. Two defeats in 16 games from Christmas through the spring recovered the league position and seven goals in seven games for a young Les Ferdinand through February and March really announced his arrival as a force in the top division of English football. There were wins over Leeds, Villa, Southampton and Man City to savour and a first ever win at Anfield with goals from Ferdinand, Roy Wegerle and Clive Wilson. A twelfth-placed finish was achieved in the top flight despite the earlier crisis.
Howe, controversially, was moved on at the end of the season regardless to “make way for a younger man”, and the return of former QPR captain Gerry Francis. He’d been player manager at Exeter at the back end of his career and then won promotion from the Third Division as champions with Bristol Rovers in his first full managerial gig. His QPR opening day return came away to champions Arsenal where one of his new signings, Dennis Bailey, opened the scoring only to be pegged back at the death by a scrambled Paul Merson effort.
Francis, though, was about to experience a similar problem to Howe. Influential Ray Wilkins limped off at Highbury with an Achilles problem destined to keep him out until the end of November. Alan McDonald didn’t even make it to opening day, picking up a back problem in pre-season which sidelined him until mid September. Rangers lost 2-0 to Norwich City during the week, spoiling Francis’ big opening night at Loftus Road.
The wait for the first win started stretching on. Roy Wegerle scored against Coventry but it was good enough for only a draw, Liverpool avenged the previous season’s defeat with a 1-0 win, Carlton bloody Palmer scored a hat trick in a 4-1 loss at Sheffield Wednesday on August Bank Holiday weekend. A tremendous performance against newly promoted West Ham, in which QPR laid siege to the visitors’ goal in front of a midweek crowd of 16,616, yielded a 0-0. A succession of missed chances, including a skied sitter from Gary Thompson, meant Southampton also left W12 with a point from a 2-2 draw. Rangers lost 2-0 at Tottenham.
A win was desperately needed from a midweek trip to Luton. Francis turned to the loan market to bolster his attack, adding Paul Walsh from Spurs up top alongside Thompson. He played a part in the only goal of the game as well, winning the ball back in midfield with substitute Ian Holloway before launching a counter attack which ended with a low Simon Barker shot, fumbled into the net by the Luton keeper. They all count.
There was, initially, more frustration to come. Rangers subsequently went 2-0 up at home to London rivals Chelsea and away at Crystal Palace only to end up drawing both games 2-2 thanks to late comebacks. But a last minute Dennis Bailey goal got a much needed second 1-0 away win of the season at Wimbledon, and the first home win of the league season finally arrived on the last Saturday of October against Everton. Rangers 2-0 up through Bailey and Barker, looked like being pegged back once more when Everton made it 2-1 only for Barker to draw his boot back from the corner of the penalty box and find the roof of the net to seal the 3-1 victory.
The season would go on to be something of a modern classic. It included the 4-1 New Year’s Day win at Old Trafford , a 4-0 home win against Man City, and 4-1 success at Loftus Road against eventual champions Leeds. Having not been able to buy a win, Rangers at one point lost just one game from 19. Les Ferdinand would tee up an extraordinary 1992/93 campaign with eight goals in his last 12 games.
Luton finished third bottom and relegated, denied entrance to the first season of the Premier League.
QPR: Stejskal; Bardsley, McDonald, Tilson, Maddix, Brevett (Holloway); Sinton, Wilson, Barker; Walsh (Bailey), Thompson
Highlights >>> Luton 2 QPR 3, 2006/07 >>> QPR 2 Luton 2, 2007 FA Cup >>> Luton 2 QPR 0, 2005/06 >>> QPR 2 Luton 1, 1991/92 >>> Luton 1 QPR 1, 1989/90 >>> QPR 1 Luton 0, 1988/89 >>> QPR 2 Luton 1, 1987 FA Cup >>> QPR 1 Luton 1, 1985/86 >>> QPR 2 Luton 2, 1979/80 >>> Luton 1 QPR 1, 1971/72
QPR 3 Luton Town 2, Saturday September 14, 2019, Championship
A game that summed up so much that’s been good and bad about Queens Park Rangers in 2019/20. Ebere Eze cut infield and found the top corner after three minutes, then Nahki Wells raced onto a long through ball from Toni Leistner to make it 2-0, and finally Eze beautifully teed up Wells for his second and Rangers’ third just before the half hour. Absolutely motoring, QPOR were stopped dead in their tracks by a dreadful Joe Lumley error which presented Harry Cornick with one goal, then immediately after half time a succession of warnings about James Collins’ danger at the back post went unheeded and he made it 3-2. From an all-guns-blazing start, Rangers were left desperately clinging on to a single goal victory for the whole of the second half.
QPR: Lumley 5; Hall 6, Leistner 7, Barbet 7; Kane 6 (Amos 69, 6), Manning 7; Ball 6, Chair 7 (Pugh 74, 7), Eze 8; Wells 8 (Mlakar 66, 6), Hugill 5
Subs not used: Cameron, Smith, Scowen, Kelly
Goals: Eze 3 (assisted Chair), Wells 20 (assisted Leistner), 28 (assisted Eze)
Bookings: Kane 47 (foul), Hall 90+2 (foul)
Luton: Sluga 5; Tunnicliffe 5, Pearson 5, Bradley 5; Bolton 5 (Galloway 59, 6), Bree 6; Shinnie 6, Lua Lua 5 (Moncur 66, 6), Brown 7; Collins 7 , Cornick 7 (Lee 79, 6),
Subs not used: Mpanzu, Jones, Butterfield, Shea
Goals: Cornick 36 (unassisted), Collins 48 (pre-assist Shinnie, assisted Cornick)
Bookings: Shinnie 65 (foul)
QPR 3 Luton Town 2, Monday April 9, 2007, Championship
John Gregory’s QPR team all but sealed its place in the Championship, while at the same time pushing Luton closer towards relegation, with a thrilling 3-2 Easter Monday win when these sides met over Easter 2007. Rangers had looked dead and buried just a few weeks prior but away wins at Leicester and Coventry and home successes against Cardiff and Preston sparked a revival and survival was in the R’s hands if they could beat the struggling Hatters at home. But things started going awry either side of half time as Chris Coyne and David Bell put the visitors 1-0 and 2-1 up either side of a goal from Dexter Blackstock. It looked like it might drift away to an away win until Blackstock’s penalty nine minutes from time set up a grandstand finish. The script was written for Paul Furlong to step off the bench and stoop to head home the final goal of his QPR career in injury time to win the game and seal safety.
QPR: Camp 6, Kanyuka 5 (Timoska 62, 7), Cullip 6, Stewart 6, Bignot 6, Bolder 6, Ainsworth 6 (Smith 22, 6), Lomas 6, Moore 6, Nygaard 5 (Furlong 64, 7), Blackstock 8
Booked: Bolder (foul)
Goals: Blackstock 41, 81 pen, Furlong 90.
Luton: Brill 6, Keane 5, Coyne 6, Heikkinen 5, Emanuel 5, Brkovic 6 (Morgan 41 4, Langley 5)), Spring 5, Robinson 5, Bell 7, Andrew 5, Talbot 6 (Idrizaj 85, -)
Subs Not Used: Foley, Perrett
Booked: Andrew (foul), Heikkinen (foul)
Goals: Coyne 45, Bell 51 pen.
Luton Town 1 QPR 0, Tuesday January 23, 2007, FA Cup third round replay
The original replay, set up by Shabazz Baidoo’s blatantly handled equaliser at Loftus Road, was postponed for a waterlogged pitch 45 minutes before it began, forcing the Rangers faithful to make a second trek up the M1 a week later. Their reward for this stoicism was 80 minutes of complete dominance over Luton, a succession of missed chances mainly by Marc Nygaard, and then an expertly executed 15-yard volley into his own net by the hapless Zesh Rehmam.
Luton: Brill 8, Foley 6, Davis 6, Coyne 6, Perrett 5, Bell 7, Robinson 6, Langley 7, Emanuel 6, Boyd 5, Brkovic 6 (Morgan 76, 7).
Subs Not Used: Barrett, O'Leary, Keane, Stevens.
Booked: Coyne, Morgan.
Goals: Rehman 80 og.
QPR: Royce 5, Rehman 6, Mancienne 8, Stewart 7, Milanese 7, Smith 6 (Ainsworth 84, -), Bailey 5, Lomas 6, Cook 7, Blackstock 7, Nygaard 5 (Ray Jones 72, 5).
Subs Not Used: Cole, Kanyuka, Furlong.
Sent Off: Bailey (74).
QPR 2 Luton Town 2, Saturday January 6, 2007, FA Cup third round
Joy of joys, QPR also drew Luton Town at home in the FA Cup that season in what turned out to be a typically torturous, seemingly-never ending saga resulting in an embarrassing early exit for the R’s. In torrential rain things initially looked like they might be going ok when Dexter Blackstock picked up where he’d left off at Kenilworth Road in November with the opening goal. But future-R Rowan Vine equalised a minute before half time and Warren Feeney made it 2-1 immediately after. That looked like being enough until Shabazz ‘MC Terminator’ Baidoo punched in an equaliser Devon White style to set up a replay up at Luton anticipated keenly by literally nobody ever.
QPR: Royce 5, Bignot 7, Mancienne 7, Stewart 7, Kanyuka 6, Cook 7, Smith 6, Lomas 4 (Bircham 71, 8), Ward 4 (Baidoo 71, 7), Blackstock 8, Jones 6 (Furlong 63, 6).
Subs not used: Cole, Rehman
Scorers:Blackstock 31, Baidoo 75
Luton Town: Beresford 6, Davis 7, Coyne 7, Perrett 6, Robinson 6, Vine 8, Feeney 7, Morgan 7, Langley 7, Brkovic 7, Barnett 6.
Subs not used: Brill, O'Leary, Boyd, Keane, Holmes.
Scorers: Vine 44, Feeney 46
Bookings: Barnett 82, Langley 90
Luton Town 2 QPR 3, Saturday November 11, 2006, Championship
An immediate revival in results following the arrival of John Gregory as manager, which included a famous 1-0 last minute win at Cardiff, continued in early November at Kenilworth Road. Gregory had plundered Chelsea for loanees Michael Mancienne and Jimmy Smith, and the latter continued his remarkable goalscoring run from midfield with a headed opener on 33 minutes – his fifth goal in seven games. A defence that included Zesh Rehman was never likely to keep many clean sheets, and here it conceded twice in first half stoppage time as Brkovic and Boyd turned the game on its head on the stroke of half time. But Rangers went back in front double lively after half time with Lee Cook’s corners causing havoc, forcing a close range own goal from Marcus Heikkinen and another from Dexter Blackstock after a loose ball dropped in the box. The game was best remembered for Mike Newell’s misogynistic rant against a female linesman after the game.
Luton: Brill 5, Foley 5, Barnett 5, Heikkinen 6, Emanuel 7, Edwards 7, Robinson 6 (Morgan 85, -), Bell 6, Brkovic 7, Vine 7 (Feeney 85, -), Boyd 7.
Subs Not Used: Barrett, Perrett, Holmes.
Goals: Brkovic 45, Boyd 45.
QPR: Royce 7, Mancienne 7, Rehman 5, Stewart 7, Bignot 6, Ainsworth 6,Bailey 8, Smith 8, Cook 7, Blackstock 8 (Gallen 80, - (Ward 90, -)), Nygaard 8
Subs Not Used: Paul Jones, Milanese, Baidoo.
Goals: Smith 33, Heikkinen 51 og, Blackstock 54.
Head to Head >>> Luton wins 31 >>> Draws 28 >>> QPR wins 38
2019/20 QPR 3 Luton 2 (Wells 2, Eze)
* - FA Cup
Roy Wegerle >>> Luton 1988-1990 >>> QPR 1990-1992
American international striker Roy Wegerle was one of those players who just seemed to really suit QPR. He followed in a long and illustrious history of maverick number 10s at Loftus Road and led the line superbly through the Don Howe and early Gerry Francis days at Loftus Road. One of his predecessors in that role and shirt number, Rodney Marsh, spotted the South African born striker playing for Tampa Bay Rowdies in the MLS and recommended him to Rangers for a trial.
Jim Smith, QPR manager in 1986, passed on him as Manchester United had done in 1980 but he was picked up by our near neighbours Chelsea and received a grounding in English football during a loan spell at Swindon. He never played regularly at Stamford Bridge and was eventually offloaded to Luton for £75,000. He starred at Kenilworth Road and 18 months after arriving went back to QPR to sign permanently and become QPR’s first million pound player in the process.
There he became a Loft hero, specialising in spectacular tricks and goals, and cooly taken penalties. He scored 31 goals in 89 league and four cup appearances. In 1990/91 he top scored with 18. That included an incredible run of six goals from his first six games and in fact by the time QPR played their fifth game of that season, at home to Luton on September 15, he was the only player to have scored for Rangers at all. Of course that day, after Wegerle had given the R’s the lead, the team went crazy and bagged six including Paul Parker’s only ever goal for the club.
He continued to score prolifically and the highlight of his time with the club came in October 1990 at Elland Road where Rangers came from two goals down to win 3-2 on goalkeeper Jan Stejskal’s debut. One of Wegerle’s two goals that day saw him ghost past five Leeds players before smashing the ball in from 20 yards and it was later named the Match of the Day Goal of the Season, only the second time a QPR player had won the award at that point and only Trevor Sinclair has won it since.
QPR were famed through the 1990s for immediately selling their best players as soon as a half decent offer came along and in March 1992 they did so again, offloading Wegerle to Jack Walker’s Blackburn Rovers revolution for £1.2m – a record fee paid by a Second Division club at the time. The money was rarely all invested back into the playing squad and indeed it wasn’t on this occasion, the spiral staircases at the back of the South Africa Road stand are still known as the “Wegerle stairs” to this day as that’s apparently where a chunk of the money went. To be fair Gerry Francis had taken over as manager and Les Ferdinand had finally developed into a world class striker by that stage so Wegerle’s star was on the wane slightly in W12.
Wegerle was part of a Blackburn team that won the play offs in 1992 to earn a place in the inaugural Premier League but they then then signed Alan Shearer from Southampton and, as happened to him at Loftus Road after Ferdinand’s emergence, he was sidelined and offloaded – this time to Coventry City. He played just 22 times for Blackburn, and only clocked up 53 appearances for the Sky Blues due to injury but scored nine goals and eventually won 41 USA caps scoring seven times.
When his contract expired at Highfield Road in 1995 he left and went onto play for Colarado, DC United and Tampa Bay Mutiny in the US. After retirement he tried his hand at professional golf and television pundit in the US.
Others >>> Kazenga Lua Lua, Luton 2018-present, QPR (loan) 2017 >>> Alex Baptiste, Luton (loan) 2019, QPR 2017-2019 >>> Michael Harriman, Luton 2014-2015, QPR 2011-2016 >>> Rowan Vine, QPR 2008-2012, Luton 2004-2007 >>> Iain Dowie, QPR (manager) 2008, 1998-2001, Luton 1988-1991 >>> Paul Furlong, Luton 2007-2008, QPR 2002-2007, 2000 (loan) >>> Kevin Gallen, Luton 2009-2011, QPR 2001-2007, 1994-2000 >>> Gary Waddock, QPR (manager) 2006, 1991-1992, 1979-1987, Luton 1994-1998 >>> Richard Langley, Luton 2006-2008, QPR 2005-2006, 1996-2003 >>> Tony Thorpe, QPR 2003-2005, Luton 2002-2003, 1999 (loan), 1998 (loan), 1992-1998 >>> Mark Stein, Luton 2000-2001, 1984-1988, QPR 1988-1989 >>> Tim Breacker, QPR 1999-2001, Luton 1983-1990 >>> Ray Harford, QPR (manager) 1997-1998, Luton (Manager) 1987-1990 >>> Juergen Sommer, QPR 1995-1998, Luton 1991-1995 >>> Roy Wegerle, QPR 1990-1992, Luton 1988-1990 >>> Plastic Pitch, Luton 1985-1991, QPR 1981-1988 >>> Paul Walsh, QPR (loan) 1991, Luton 1982-1984 >>> Andy King, Luton 1985-1986, QPR 1980-1981 >>> Don Shanks, QPR 1974-1981, Luton 1970-1974 >>> Don Givens, QPR 1972-1978, Luton 1970-1972 >>> Dave Sexton, QPR (manager) 1974-1977, Luton 1951-1952 >>> Alec Stock, Luton (manager) 1968-1972, QPR (manager) 1959-1968, 1938-1939 >>> Mike Keen, Luton 1969-1972, QPR 1959-1969
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