Triumphant Rangers ready to be an Academy again

By Ben Kosky ELATED Steve Gallen is confident that his team s stirring victory in the Youth Alliance League Cup final can be the launchpad to regaining Academy status. Gallen s under-18 side, who also finished runners-up in the league, fought back from 3-

By Ben Kosky

ELATED Steve Gallen is confident that his team's stirring victory in the Youth Alliance League Cup final can be the launchpad to regaining Academy status.

Gallen's under-18 side, who also finished runners-up in the league, fought back from 3-1 down to beat Stockport County 4-3 at Loftus Road and clinch the cup for the first time.

QPR chairman Ishan Saksena and first team boss Neil Warnock both witnessed the youngsters' victory - and have indicated they would back moves to restore Rangers to youth football's top table.


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The club brought through a stream of talent between 1979 and 1994, including Clive Allen, Paul Goddard, Gary Waddock, Alan McDonald, Peter Hucker, Warren Neill, Danny Dichio and Gallen's brother Kevin.

But Rangers gave up their Academy status for financial reasons almost a decade ago, switching to the lower-grade Centre of Excellence and, until recently, when Antonio German and Josh Parker emerged into the first team, the well has run dry.

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Gallen, who was appointed Centre of Excellence manager a year ago, told the Times: "Winning the cup doesn't mean we've made it - but it says we're almost the best Centre of Excellence in the country.

"We've got two players in the first team and we've sold a 15-year-old, Raheem Sterling, for �500,000, which could go up to more. That suggests we're doing something right - but I hope we don't have to sell anyone again.

"Neil Warnock came down to the dressing-room to congratulate the boys on their comeback, he's talking about us being an Academy and the chairman is talking about it too.

"I really hope and believe we will go back to being an Academy and we can try to challenge the big clubs."

Rangers had surrendered the lead to lose the previous year's final to Grimsby - and it looked as if history might repeat itself after captain Max Ehmer headed them into an eighth-minute lead against Stockport.

The Hatters were hardly in the game, but turned the deficit around with goals from Danny Rowe and Cameron Darkwah in a three-minute burst just before the half-hour point.

Bruno Andrade was unlucky not to equalise when his 30-yarder rattled the post, but Stockport seemed to have dealt their hosts a killer blow when Steven Murty turned in a low cross to make it 3-1 early in the second half.

But Andrade pulled a goal back four minutes later and, after Darkwah was sent off for two yellow card offences within the space of a minute, QPR piled on the pressure.

Danny Fernandez levelled from the spot after Christian Nanetti had been pulled down inside the penalty area - and the striker then stabbed home his second of the night from Frankie Sutherland's deflected cross with 12 minutes remaining.

Substitute Sam Bewick could have sealed victory when he rounded the keeper and hit the post in injury time - and Nanetti missed a better opportunity as he fired into the side netting.

But Rangers held on for a deserved victory and Gallen added: "Even at 3-1, I thought 'we're going to win this' and, once we got to 3-2, I knew we would.

"We'll try to do better next year and that doesn't just mean trying to do the double. Doing better next year would be getting two more players into the first team."

Meanwhile, Rangers announced on Wednesday that Parker - who featured in their last four games of the season - had signed a one-year professional contract.

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