Austin’s winner lifts Rangers up to second

QPR 2 Huddersfield Town 1

Charlie Austin’s 78th-minute winner took QPR up to second in the Championship.

Huddersfield were impressive and looked set to secure a deserved point when recent signing Nahki Wells levelled midway through the second half.

But striker Austin’s header – his second goal of the match and 14th of the campaign – proved decisive.

Rangers, heavily dependent on Austin this season, struggled before their top scorer opened the scoring by finishing emphatically after Clint Hill’s lofted ball forward had been flicked on by Niko Kranjcar and then Andy Johnson.

That 55th-minute goal was cancelled out when Wells headed in Adam Hammill’s cross from close range.

However, Austin struck again when he rose to meet Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s right-wing corner.

Austin’s first goal followed an end-to-end first half in which Johnson almost put QPR ahead and they hit the woodwork twice, with Huddersfield missing excellent chances to score.

Rangers boss Harry Redknapp made a major tactical change, pairing Austin and Johnson, whose header from Kranjcar’s early corner was cleared off the line by Hammill.

Without the injured Joey Barton, Redknapp opted for a ‘diamond’ midfield, with Karl Henry in front of the back four and Kranjcar supporting the two strikers.

They struggled to adapt in the opening 45 minutes and Town’s Daniel Ward fired over after being found by Adam Clayton, and then squandered a golden opportunity by dragging a shot wide having been set up by Oliver Norwood.

Huddersfield continued to cause problems and keeper Rob Green uncomfortably pushed over Norwood’s free-kick before saving Wells’ header.

And QPR had another lucky escape when the unmarked Jonathan Hogg shot tamely at Green despite having plenty of time and space after collecting Ward’s pass.

Redknapp’s side were at least able to rely on Kranjcar’s set-piece deliveries, and another corner from the Croatian led to first Austin and then Henry heading against the bar.

They have certainly been able to rely on Austin, whose well-taken first goal came after Redknapp had made a change by bringing Matt Phillips on for the second half in order to give the hosts some much-needed width.

But Huddersfield have acquired their own clinical forward in Wells and the Bermuda international has now scored twice in as many games since his move from Bradford City.

Rangers, to their credit, responded strongly to that setback and Phillips brought a fine save from keeper Alex Smithies before Austin eventually restored his team’s lead.

The closest Town came to another equaliser was a header from substitute James Vaughan that was comfortably gathered by Green.

QPR: Green, Simpson, Dunne, Hill, Assou-Ekotto, O’Neil, (Phillips 45) Henry, Carroll, Kranjcar, Austin, Johnson (Traore 79).
Subs not used: Murphy; Onuoha, Diakite, Zamora, Wright-Phillips.


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