Fulham’s Under 23 side were comfortably beaten by Charlton Athletic in their second group game of the Premier League 2 Cup this evening.
The Whites were looking to build on an impressive win over Middlesbrough in their first fixture of the competition and fielded a side that featured several players with first-team experience, including Ryan Tunnicliffe and Lasse Vigen Christensen, but were up against it from the off against the Addicks at the DGS Marine Stadium. They could have fallen behind in the first minute had Josh Umerah directed a free header from a free-kick anywhere other than directly at Fulham goalkeeper Marek Rodak. Archie Edwards’ deflected drive flew agonisingly wide and only some impressive recovery work from Aron Davies and Sean Kavanagh prevented Brendan Hanlon from putting the hosts in front after he had raced through on goal.
El-Hadji Ba somehow contrived to fail to put the finishing touch to a slick Charlton move midway through the first period allowing Fulham to hack the ball clear from their own goal-line but the pattern for the first period was set. The home side penned the Whites back for large periods of the game, something illustrated by the fact that Fulham’s only effort of note came from Spanish midfielder Jozabed who sent an ambitious effort over the crossbar from distance after half an hour.
Fulham’s luck finally ran out three minutes later. Dan Bowry stole in to win possession back for Charlton, linked up with Jose Aribo to prize open the Fulham midfield and Umerah finally steered a finish beyond Rodak. It was the least that Charlton’s energetic and adventurous display to that point had merited – but Fulham should have summoned an almost instantaneous response when Josh Walker stormed through on goal moments later, but the striker spooned his shot disappointingly over the bar.
Jason Euell’s side capitalised on that stroke of good fortune by doubling their lead just before half-time. Umerah’s devilishly threatening low cross eluded both Hanlon and Kennedy, only for Edwards to turn the ball back across goal and Aribo, having worked a clever angle by cutting back inside, found the bottom corner with a precise finish. Getting back into the contest was going to prove difficult enough for Peter Grant’s side without the concession of another goal – but Fulham endured the worst possible start to the second half when Tayo Edun felled Hanlon inside the box, and Umerah grabbed his second from the ensuing spot-kick.
With the game beyond them, Fulham did at least manage to put together some more promising patterns of play and enjoy more of the possession. They got the slightest sniff of a comeback when they were awarded a penalty twenty minutes from time after Dimitar Mitov was adjudged to have brought down Walker and Cauley Woodrow confidently dispatched the kick from 12 yards. The visitors couldn’t sustain much pressure after that and, in fact, it was Charlton who went closest to scoring again. Rodak made good saves from Ba and Umerah on a disappointing night in Eltham for the Whites.
CHARLTON UNDER 23s: Mitov, Lapslie, Dijksteel, Bowry, Edwards, Ba, Charles-Cook, Aribo, Kennedy (c), Hanlan, Umerah. Subs (not used): Beeney, Barnes, Millar, Yamfam, Ahearne-Grant.
BOOKED: Umerah, Charles-Cook, Lapslie, Mitov, Edwards, Kennedy.
GOALS: Umerah (33, pen 48), Aribo (38).
FULHAM UNDER 23s: Rodak; Fossey, Edun, Davies, Kavanagh; Tunnicliffe, Christensen, Adeniran, Jozabed (Smile 55); Woodrow, Walker. Subs (not used): Ashby-Hammond, Dolan, de La Torre.
BOOKED: Kavanagh, Walker, Woodrow.
GOAL: Woodrow (pen 71).
REFEREE: Anthony Serrano,