How fitting that of all the big names and massive salaries on Harry Redknapp’s bally-hooed Queens Park Rangers, the man who sent them to the playoff final was wearing a kit with no name and number on the back?
24-year-old Charlie Austin penned a dramatic comeback for QPR with a late-second-half equalizer and the extra time match winner as the club advanced to within 90 minutes of the Premier League with a 2-1 win over Wigan Athletic in the second leg of their Championship playoff semifinal at Loftus Road.
Austin has 19 goals this season for QPR after stints at Burnley, Swindon Town, Poole Town, Hungerford Town and Kintbury Rangers. His story is remarkable, and now his strike rate has sent QPR into a date with Derby County after the Rams cruised past Brighton 6-2 on aggregate.
Former Newcastle United player James Perch scored in the ninth minute to give Wigan a lead that would last into the 73rd minute, when Austin converted a penalty won by Canadian attacker Junior Hollett. Austin struck again in the 96th minute, and that ol’ Wigan magic couldn’t be found.
Derby County and Queens Park Rangers square off on May 24 at Wembley for the right to go back to the Premier League.