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Thursday 17 May 2012

Fulham crowned Academy League champions

Kit Symons proud of players after they defeat Blackburn Rovers in Craven Cottage final

Fulham forward Cauley Woodrow scores the first goal in the Academy League final

Fulham Under-18s manager Kit Symons says he is delighted with the progress of his players this season after they were crowned 2011/12 Premier Academy League Champions.

Fulham secured the title with a 2-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers in the Premier Academy League Final at Craven Cottage last weekend, which was watched by the club's manager Martin Jol, his first-team squad and almost 1,000 fans.

Cauley Woodrow scored the first goal for Fulham on 55 minutes, firing home Na Bangna’s low cross, while Ryan Williams made sure of the win with seven minutes to go.

"Everyone in the changing rooms afterwards, as you would imagine, was very jubilant and extremely happy, and rightly so after a good season's work," Symons told Fulham's official website.

"If you've got enough players with this winning mentality then you can't help but win games and win cups and win leagues"
- Kit Symons

"For a lot of the boys it was the second time that they'd won their league which was a great achievement to do two years running.

"They narrowly lost in the final last season so to go and win it this year was a culmination of two years' really hard work from them and I'm thrilled they've got a trophy to show for it in the end.

"Again, I still maintain that winning leagues and trophies is not what youth football is all about because individual development is the most important thing but, individually, I think they’ve all developed really, really well.

"So we're delighted with the progress the players have made but also, part of that individual development is the winning mentality and if you've got enough players with this winning mentality then you can't help but win games and win cups and win leagues."

Fulham and Blackburn were the last teams standing after a hard-fought Premier Academy League campaign, which features 40 clubs from the Premier League and Football League.

All teams with Academy status take part in the competition, with the clubs split into four groups of 10.

Each team plays 28 fixtures, taking on each side in their group twice as well as playing another 10 inter-group matches.

The top side in each group makes it through to the semi-finals, with the winners of those single-leg matches battling it out in the final for the right to be called Premier Academy League champions.

"They now go on their holidays after a great season, they can hold their heads high"
- Terry McPhillips

Fulham made sure of a place in their second straight final after winning Group A by one point from Southampton and defeating Leicester City 2-1 in the play-off semi-final.

Blackburn Rovers, meanwhile, edged Manchester City to top spot in Group C with the help of eight wins in their last nine matches, including a crucial 1-0 victory over Manchester United in the final match of the season.

The Under-18s then reached the final with a 2-0 win over Newcastle United.

Rovers have had a hectic climax to the campaign as they also reached the FA Youth Cup final, only to lose to Chelsea over two legs.

“The lads have had a great season but [the Fulham match] looked like a game too far," Blackburn Rovers Under-18s coach Terry McPhillips told the club's official website.

"Good luck to Fulham, they deserved to win, but if we had brought anywhere near our game to the table then it would have been us, but we haven't.

"To be fair to the lads it has been a long hard season so we have to give them that one. They now go on their holidays after a great season, they can hold their heads high."

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Key Points

  • Fulham cliam the Premier Academy League title
  • They record a 2-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers in the final at Craven Cottage
  • Fulham U-18 coach Kit Symons delighted with progress of his players