Frank's final goal
Feature by Tony Scholes
Updated Friday, 7th April 2006
Queens Park Rangers have never been regular visitors to the Turf. Our first league meeting was less than forty years ago and tomorrow will be just the eleventh between us at home.
That was until the Rangers manager Les Allen decide to take action and substituted his goalkeeper, and this was in the days long before sub keepers, and played an outfield player in goal for the second half. Incredibly they came back to draw it 2-2.
That was the first time they played here, the last time was just under a year ago when we beat them 2-0 in our last midweek game of the season. The first half was a disappointing affair with both sides giving the ball away far too often but just when it looked as though we would go in at the interval at 0-0 we grabbed the lead.
It was almost a replica of the goal we had scored in the Saturday draw against Brighton but this time it was central defender Gary Cahill who got down the right hand side of the pitch before finding Graham Branch with an excellent cross to the far post. Branchy won a superb header to knock it inside for Ade Akinbiyi who had the simplest of tasks to head home past goalkeeper Chris Day.
QPR started the second half brightly but after a couple of shots off target it was the Clarets who took command and it was no surprise when we doubled the lead. James O'Connor played a wonderful ball inside the full back for Mo Camara. The full back used his pace to get past two defenders before hitting in a low cross that Akinbiyi converted off his shin.
That was that, the points were ours and the result ensured we would be staying in this division after a difficult few months following the sale of Robbie Blake.
It was only our second home game against QPR since winning promotion, the other coming in the first season back at this level. We'd been on a run of four away games and it was the first Turf Moor game for a month, coming just a week before a trip to Ewood Park.
QPR were struggling at the bottom of the league and had just dispensed with the services of manager Gerry Francis and replaced him with former Bristol Rovers boss Ian Holloway.
It was a case of first and last for the Clarets as we went in at half time 2-0 up. The first goal was scored by Paul Smith from close range and it proved to be his last goal for the club before moving to Hartlepool in the summer. That came on the quarter hour and just before half time Gareth Taylor doubled the lead with a header, his first home goal since joining the Clarets in February.
QPR were second best throughout but they did pull a goal back in the second half through Marcus Bignot. There was to be no comeback even though striker Peter Crouch came close with a couple of efforts on goal.
Just a few years before, having won promotion together in 1973, we played, and beat, them in each of our last three seasons in the top flight. The last of those was a memorable day for Frank Casper. He'd been out of the side for eighteen months with injury but returned and scored the only goal of the game with a free kick.
The goal was Frank's 100th league goal and it proved to be his last. He wasn't able to recover sufficiently from his injuries and retired a couple of months later.
With both of us staying in this division next season it will be a third successive season together for the first time since those days in the 1970s.