CHARLIE Austin’s last-gasp goal saw QPR come from behind to secure three priceless points against Doncaster Rovers at Loftus Road.
Austin’s 90th minute header – his 11th league goal of the season – capped off a turn around in Rangers fortunes after they had trailed by a single goal at half-time.
Matty Phillips equalised 10 minutes into the second half tapping in following a goal mouth scrabble before Austin notched the winner after making his return from a hamstring injury.
It was Austin’s first appearance in three matches after the problem kept him out of matches at Nottingham Forest and Watford over the festive period. Defender Nedum Onuoha kept his place in defence despite Clint Hill recovering from illness whilst Gary O’Neil was favoured ahead of Tom Carroll in midfield.
QPR started brightly winning a corner inside the first minute before Charlie Austin directed Joey Barton’s cross into the arms of visiting keeper Ross Turnball moments later.
Niko Krancjar was next up to test the Doncaster defence after a strong run from Hoilett – who pulled up injured picking out Simpson on the right flank – Simpson then pulled the ball back across the edge of the box and Kranjcar drilled it inches wide.
Doncaster register their first real chance of the match after 25 minutes when Richie Wellens burst into the QPR box before curling a right foot shot past Robert Green’s left-hand post. One time Rangers loanee Federico Macheda was next up to threaten, flashing a deflected effort across the face of goal as both sides struggled to discover the breakthrough.
However, the visitors did take the lead two minutes before the half-time whistle when Yossi Benayoun gave the ball away in the centre circle. Macheda took advantage sliding in striker Theo Robinson who made no mistake scoring from 12-yards into the far corner to hand Doncaster a 1-0 lead.
Benayoun made way at half-time for striker Andy Johnson as QPR boss Harry Redknapp opted to partner the former Everton forward with Austin. As the rain continued to fall in W12 Asso-Ekotto’s corner was headed wide by Onuoha five minutes after the restart as Rangers searched for an equaliser.
It duly arrived on 55 minutes when Assou-Ekotto’s dangerous left wing cross caused panic in the Doncaster six-yard box. Cotterill did well to block Austin’s initial attempts to sweep it into the back of the net before substitute Matty Phillips followed it up – side footing past Turnball from close range.
The conditions nearly got the better of custodian Green when he needed two attempts to gather Mark Duffy’s long range shot after being forced to spill the initial effort.
With 15 minutes remaining a mazy run from Croatian international Kranjcar saw him beat four Doncaster defenders before forcing Turnball to parry his shot away as Rovers escaped.
It looked as though Rangers were going to have to settle for a point until Danny Simpson collected the ball out on the right hand side. The former Manchester United defender whipped a dangerous ball into the box and Austin jumped highest to head past Turnball as Loftus Road erupted into frenzy as second later the full-time whistle sounded.
The win – Rangers first in four – was enough to lift them a place to third position, a point behind second place Burnley.