CHARLIE Austin grabbed a brace against Barnsley this afternoon but it was Rob Green’s clean sheet at the other end of the pitch that grabbed the headlines.
The R's top scorer fired Rangers ahead with a neat finish inside the six-yard box after 66 minutes before adding a second from the penalty spot late on.
However, Green’s shutout – the R's eighth in a row – set a new club record stretching back to the 1966/67 season when Peter Springett equalled Reg Allen’s seven goal record from the 1946/47 season.
The win came after manager Harry Redknapp named the same starting line-up two games running for the first time in his QPR tenure.
Rangers were forced into being patient in the opening 15 minutes as Barnsley stacked men behind the ball. Their first opening came courtesy of a corner as Joey Barton’s kick from the right picked out Richard Dunne before Croatian international Niko Kranjcar was unable to guide his shot on target.
At the other end Rob Green kept the R’s on track as he turned Tykes midfielder Tom Kennedy’s cross-come-shot over the crossbar.
It was another set piece that the R’s nearly found an opening from. Tom Carroll’s corner perfectly picked out Dunne inside the Barnsley box but his header was cleared off the line by David Perkins with England Under-21 international Jack Butland well beaten in the Tykes goal on 20 minutes.
Butland, on loan from Stoke City, redeemed himself 16 minutes later with a fine double save for the visitors. Firstly he was on hand to keep out Austin from close range after he latched onto a Assou-Ekotto cross from the left, before immediately getting back to his feet to save from Ale Faurlin on the follow-up.
On the stroke of half-time QPR escaped a penalty appeal after the ball appeared to strike Kranjcar’s arm inside the R’s 18-yard box but referee Dave Phillips waved away Barnsley’s protests as the opening 45 minutes ended all square.
Redknapp kept faith with the same eleven after the interval as Barton shot over the Barnsley crossbar from a 25-yard free-kick before the R’s midfielder picked out Dunne with a corner but he was unable to guide his header in on goal.
That pressure continued to build as Kranjcar saw his shot inside the Barnsley box steered over from on the line by Paddy McCourt before Junior Hoilett replaced Faurlin just after the hour mark.
Hoilett’s introduction sparked Rangers into life as twice they were denied penalties. The first via a header from Junior was blocked before Kranjcar’s shot also appeared to be handled by a Barnsley defender.
However, minutes later QPR finally found themselves ahead following more good work by Hoilett down the left. His low cross into the penalty area took a deflection off of a Barnsley defender but it fell beautifully for Charlie Austin who swept it home from inside the six-yard box and hand the R’s a 66th minute lead.
Buoyed by the goal, Rangers continued to pose the greater attacking threat, with the lively Hoilett at the heart of their positive forays.
In a bid to see out the game, Redknapp made a second change with ten minutes to go, replacing the hardworking O’Neil with Karl Henry.
Austin had enjoyed a fine tussle with the Tykes back four all afternoon and having already got the better of them with his opening goal, he caused yet more havoc four minutes from time.
Having evaded the challenge of two Barnsley defenders, he was sent tumbling to ground by Martin Cranie, leaving David Phillips with little alternative but to point to the spot at the third time of asking. Austin duly picked himself up and dusted himself down before sending Butland the wrong way to add his and Rangers second of the afternoon.
It proved the final opportunity - apart from Javier Chevanton's speculative effort after coming off the bench - as Rangers recorded another victory in W12 to open up a three point lead from third place Leicester City.