Redknapp hails QPR character

Harry Redknapp hailed the 'character' of his Queens Park Rangers side on a 'fantastic' night in the Sky Bet Championship play-offs.

With a semi-final clash with Wigan Athletic locked at 0-0 following the first leg at the DW Stadium, something had to give at Loftus Road on Monday.

It was to be the visitors who struck first, as James Perch opened the scoring inside nine minutes, but Charlie Austin converted a second-half penalty to take the tie to extra-time.

Redknapp then saw his top scorer net again to edge settle the contest and book a final date with Derby County at Wembley on 24th May.

He told Sky Sports: "It's been a fantastic night.

"They started well. I thought for 20 minutes they came out and we had problems with their system. We wanted to put pressure on but we couldn't get out, we didn't have an out ball.

"Then we went with two up front and I think the game changed then. From then on, I thought we were the better team.

"All round it was a great performance. We showed a lot of character, great character. Everybody dug in."

Redknapp is now readying himself to lead QPR out at the home of English football, an occasion he believes is just reward for the effort put in by everyone connected with the club this season.

He added: "Looking forward to it.

"It's a smashing club, it's got great support. The owners are fantastic people to work for, they really are. I've worked with some nice people and these are real top people.

"It's good for them, it's good for the fans and the players deserve it because they worked their socks off.

"We have got a great game to look forward to now with Derby. Steve's (McClaren) there, they are a good side and it will be an interesting game."

Joey Barton's experience could prove crucial at Wembley, but the influential midfielder insists no-one at QPR headed into this season believing promotion was a must.

He said: "For me, it was a transition period after a terrible season in the Premier League the year before.

"I think it was a case of maybe getting rid of one or two and building a nucleus of a squad, a group of men together, a sort of band of brothers, which is what we've tried to do and it's been a slow process but fair play to the gaffer.

"We've got quality in the team and the big man (Austin) scores goals, that's what he does."

On a keenly-fought battle with Wigan, Barton added: "Nobody thought it was going to be easy. Credit to Wigan, they are a very good outfit and have caused a lot of people problems.

"They had a lot of momentum coming into the play-offs and Uwe (Rosler) has done a fantastic job there.

"It's sad there has to be a loser, I think that would have been a great final. But we have dug deep, got the goal in extra-time, and I think that over the two legs we slightly shaded it."