STEVE Gallen looked forward to a dream date at Loftus Road after QPR Under-18s booked their place in the Professional Development League 2 play-off final courtesy of Saturday's dramatic 1-0 win at Leeds United.
Peter Skapetis’ stoppage-time strike secured victory with seconds to spare as Rangers prevailed over their much-fancied Northern section winners in United's own back yard.
Gallen hopes his side’s success can regenerate a ‘feel-good factor’ around W12 as he celebrated the R’s last-gasp heroics at full-time, telling www.qpr.co.uk
: “We’re absolutely delighted to be in the final.
“It was a tight game. Both teams were very nervous and tentative, a typical semi-final for this level probably.
“It was a different kind of performance from us. It wasn’t the free-flowing football that we’ve been showing in the last few months. That was more about grit, fight, resilience and a fantastic battling spirit.
“We held on and got that little bit of luck at the end. Once we scored with two minutes to go it was always going to be very difficult for Leeds to do something about it.”
Victory capped the perfect performance at both ends as R's goalkeeper Joe Lumley stood firm to preserve a third clean sheet in succession.
No side leaked fewer goals than Gallen’s side in both sections of the Professional Development League - a reputation enhanced following another resolute rearguard display.
“To come to Leeds and get a clean sheet is fantastic,” he said. “It gives you the opportunity to take a chance and we did that.
“Over the two leagues we’ve let the least amount of goals and I do highlight that to the boys because they should be proud of that.
“We don’t want just to be known as these clean sheet experts but we’re good at it!”
Gallen also acknowledged match-winner Skapetis, who proved the difference once again in attack with a decisive finish at the death.
“He didn’t get loads of chances but that’s just typical of a striker,” Gallen said.
“It could go wrong for you nine times out ten but that one time it dropped for him he put it in the back of the net.
“He’s scored the winning goal in the semi-final, he’s going to be absolutely delighted.”
Victory for Rangers sets up a showdown with Huddersfield Town, who prevailed on penalties over Charlton Athletic in the second semi-final.
Gallen believes a place in the final is just rewards for his rising stars and hopes the R’s faithful can show their support to make it a night to remember.
“For all of us it’s magnificent,” he added. “For me, personally and the lads, to play at Loftus Road, it’s brilliant.
“It’s going to be a fantastic experience to play at Loftus Road in a final. Hopefully we can get a few fans there and the club get a bit of a feel-good factor about it.
“The lads deserve to have a night like that and hopefully they’ll get it on that evening.”
Full details of the Professional Development League 2 play-off final at Loftus Road will be confirmed on www.qpr.co.uk in the coming days.