Does this kind of form hint at the talent that we’ve all been a little too nervous to get excited about? Does it mean we might see a bit of Giles Barnes before the season’s out? Does it drag him closer to a permanent future with Fulham? Or is it all much ado about nothing considering that his goals came in an end-of-season reserve game?
Six wins in seven for the second string represents a strong finish for the reserves – and should leave the boys in the top three. Barnes seems to have plenty of freedom in the reserve side and looks like he’s displaying the kind of ability that would make him a real spark in our workaholic side. He could have opened the scoring with a rasping drive from 25 yards but for a brilliant save from Tom Harrison in the Stoke goal.
He did break the deadlock with a more straighforward but still impressive finish to lift a through ball from Julian Gray, whose future at the Cottage might still be in doubt despite featuring for the reserves, over the goalkeeper. Just after the half hour, Barnes doubled Fulham’s lead with his second: a strong finish to another lovely passing move.
Louis Moult gave the game a different complexion early in the second half when he showed both composure and real quality to beat Pascal Zuberbuhler from an acute that seemed too acute. The home side looked as though they might claim at least a point from the contest as they began to dominate the play, but Erik Nevland punished some slack defending and finished with assurance to secure the three points. The Norway striker was promptly withdrawn, presumably to make sure he’s ready for Middlesbrough on Saturday.
Fulham finish their reserve campaign against the group leaders and reigning Southern champions Aston Villa next Monday night.
FULHAM RESERVES (4-5-1): Zuberbühler; Stoor, Smith, Baird, Smalling; Saunders, Gray, Harris, Gera (Laribi 33); Barnes (Hoesen 84); Nevland (Uwezu 64).