Austin double guides QPR to narrow Huddersfield win

Charlie Austin of QPR celebrates after scoring the opening goal against Huddersfield. Photo by Ben H

Charlie Austin of QPR celebrates after scoring the opening goal against Huddersfield. Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images

Championship: QPR 2 Huddersfield Town 1

Charlie Austin took his goal tally for the season to 14 as the QPR striker’s second-half double saw off a battling Huddersfield Town at Loftus Road.

Austin struck with a powerful shot past Alex Smithies to open the scoring, before Nahki Wells – briefly a QPR January transfer target – headed a deserved equaliser for the visitors.

However, Austin rose high to head in Benoi Assou-Ekotto’s late corner, to secure the points and prevent QPR’s promotion challenge from suffering another wobble.

It was far from a straightforward afternoon for Redknapp’s side, however, who were pushed hard by a Huddersfield side which skilfully matched invention with resilience.

With Joey Barton missing the match with a thigh injury, Karl Henry started alongside Tom Carroll in central midfield, while Andy Johnson partnered Austin up front.

A bright opening from both sides produced a cluster of early opportunities. Daniel Ward twice came close to breaking the deadlock for Huddersfield, sending a dipping half-volley a foot over Rob Green’s crossbar, and then darting between Clint Hill and Richard Dunne, only to pull his shot well wide when he should have hit the target.

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QPR came close themselves, as Johnson met Niko Kranjcar’s corner with a glancing header at the near post which Adam Hammill scuffed off the line.

Oliver Norwood curled a free-kick over the Rangers wall towards the bottom corner, but Green did well to tip the ball up and over the crossbar.

Hammill was causing QPR problems, getting in behind Danny Simpson and firing in a low cross which bounced off Ward and a defender into the arms of a relieved Green.

Huddersfield were, however, looking vulnerable from set-pieces, and QPR almost took advantage twice in a matter of seconds. From another corner, Austin’s header bounced back off the post, and Henry headed the rebound against the face of the bar.

Redknapp brought on Matt Phillips, and Rangers opened the scoring soon after the break. Kranjcar and Johnson both flicked on Hill’s pass, and Austin ran clear to beat Smithies.

The lead was short-lived. On 67 minutes, Hammill jinked his way to the touchline and crossed for Wells, who directed his header brilliantly past Green.

Redknapp had turned down the chance to sign Wells earlier this month, a decision which briefly appeared set to haunt the Rangers manager.

However, his side quickly reasserted themselves. The sprightly Phillips should have restored the lead, but could only head Henry’s inviting, hanging cross wide. The winger then saw his 20-yard piledriver pushed aside by Smithies.

Assou-Ekotto swung in the resulting corner, and Austin powered his header downwards and past Smithies to give Rangers the points.

QPR: Green, Simpson, Dunne, Hill, Assou-Ekotto, Carroll, Kranjcar, Henry, O’Neil, Austin, Johnson. Subs: Murphy, Traore, Phillips, Wright-Phillips, Onuoha, Diakite, Zamora.

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