Tale of two Championship strikers: Martin vs. Austin

Derby County and Queens Park Rangers will be hoping that it is their goal-scoring forward who can settle next weekend’s Championship playoff final – but who has the edge?

It is the final that everybody wanted to see - Derby County against Queens Park Rangers, a face-off between the third and fourth best teams in the Championship for a seat at the top table of English football.

The fixture promises to feature some intriguing battles: the Rams’ dynamic youth against the hardened experience of the R’s; former England manager Steve McLaren against the previous favourite for the job Harry Redknapp.

But perhaps the most important head-to-head on the day will be played out between two of the league’s top scorers. Derby’s Chris Martin and QPR’s Charlie Austin struck twice apiece during their sides’ semi-final matches, and both are certain to start at Wembley on 24 May.

Martin has enjoyed a record-breaking season at the iPro Stadium, becoming the first Rams player to net 25 goals in a single campaign for almost three decades. 22 of Martin’s strikes have come in the league.

Austin has endured a slightly frustrating term at Loftus Road, having spent close to three months on the sidelines after injuring his shoulder in January. Despite the knock, he has still managed to find the net 20 times in all competitions, including the brace that secured his side their berth in the final at the expense of Wigan Athletic.

Both strikers bring a slightly different attacking style to the table. Derby’s goal-scoring talisman is the focal point of their play, holding the ball up to allow the likes of Craig Bryson and Will Hughes to move forward at will. Austin is more of an out-and-out goalscorer, having repeatedly proven his fine finishing abilities in recent seasons – 102 goals in five years during spells with Swindon Town, Burnley and QPR is an impressive return.

There is little doubt that both forwards have earned the right to be plying their trade in the Premier League next season, but only one will get the chance come full-time next Saturday. It would take a brave person to bet against one of them making the decisive statement.

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