Having gifted the Cottagers an early opportunity which Cameron Thompson gratefully took, we worked our way back into the game with some tidy midfield play. Both sides hit the woodwork – us twice through Tariq Hinds and Jamie Reynolds – before Reo Griffiths nodded home a deserved equaliser seven minutes into the second half.
The visitors were always dangerous on the break with their quick and powerful runners, though, and after goalkeeper Jonathan De Bie denied Sunny Hilton what had looked a certain goal, Chris Kelly won a penalty nine minutes from time, which Thompson emphatically converted to give his side the win, maintaining the Cottagers’ position in the Under-18 Premier League’s top three.
There was a fierce wind swirling around Hotspur Way in the aftermath of an overnight storm, making the conditions difficult, but there could be no excuse for Fulham’s opening goal on six minutes as centre-back Moroyin Omolabi was dispossessed by Thompson and he went on to slot under De Bie one-on-one.
Reynolds was deployed in his more recognised central midfield role having been called upon at left-back in recent months and he forced a good save from goalkeeper Luca Ashby-Hammond, while De Bie got in the way of Nicolas Santos Clase’s shot and Brooklyn Lyons-Foster cleared the loose ball with the goal gaping following one of a number of powerful breaks down the left from the Fulham attacker midway through the first half.
Paris Maghoma went to ground in the box after a good move but saw his appeals for a penalty waved away, while Hinds’ effort caught the wind and arrowed onto the corner of bar and post with 28 minutes gone. Santos Clase was at it again shortly before the interval with another burst down the left – this time his shot hit the near post – while Reynolds’ effort from just inside the area struck the crossbar on 43 minutes as the end-to-end nature of the game continued.
Our equaliser arrived on 52 minutes and it was thanks largely to the persistence of right-back Matt Lock. After initially seeing his attack halted, Lock charged down a clearance and worked his way to the byline before picking out Griffiths (pictured, above), who was left with a free header from six yards out.
We were dictating the tempo of the game without really getting the ball into any dangerous areas and it was actually Fulham who had the better chances after our equaliser. Omolabi and Maghoma threw themselves in the way of Tyrese Francois’ shots in a brave moment of defending, with De Bie then blocking Hilton’s drive from six yards when the Fulham man only had the keeper to beat.
However, the telling moment arrived in the 81st minute when Kelly went over in the box under Maghoma’s challenge following another effective counter-attack and Thompson blasted the resulting penalty down the middle to inflict defeat on coach Scott Parker in his first match against his former side.
COACH SCOTT PARKER SAID
“It’s frustrating. I was really pleased with the way we played in the first half with the wind – the wind was very strong today – and in the second half maybe we were under pressure a little bit more but we were brave on the ball and showed some good quality. The result has gone against us but in terms of the way we played, I was really pleased. The massive learning curve for me with the boys is managing the situation at certain points in the game – we were a bit naïve at times in terms of giving away silly fouls and the penalty. That was probably the biggest disappointment but overall I thought we were pretty decent.”
Spurs U18s: De Bie (c), Lock, Hinds, P Maghoma, Lyons-Foster, Omolabi, Mukendi, A Shashoua, Griffiths, Reynolds, Patterson (Richards 82). Substitutes (not used): Freeman, Pochettino, Statham, Tainio.
There’s a chance to exact a measure of revenge on Fulham when we face them again at Hotspur Way in a fortnight’s time, this time in the new Under-18 Premier League Cup. Prior to that, we’ve another opportunity to step out on the European stage as our Under-19s host Real Madrid in the UEFA Youth League on Wednesday 1 November. Kick-off will be at 3pm, with ticket details to be confirmed in the coming days.