A first-half double from Nicolas Santos-Clase sent Fulham’s under 18s into the quarter finals of the FA Youth Cup tonight as the young Whites recorded an impressive victory at Swansea this evening.
The home side started well in the Welsh mizzle with Mason Jones-Thomas seeing a low shot smartly saved by Luca Ashby-Hammond, the hero of the penalty shoot-out win in the previous round at Huddersfield Town, and Kees de Boer firing across the face of goal after his free-kick had come back off the Fulham wall. Colin Omogbehin’s side gradually grew into the contest with Tammy Abraham seeing his deflected drive loop wide of the target after a lightening Fulham break.
Lively winger Santos-Clase looked threatening down the left and, he also had a shot deflected behind for a corner. From Tyrone Francois’ flag-kick, the Spaniard was left unattended inside the six yard-box and headed home emphatically. From there, the Whites began to see more of the ball and take a firmer grip on proceedings. Jayden Harris sent a free header over from another Francois set play and Sonny Hilton, playing in the number ten role, was finding space in front of the Swansea back from which to orchestrate a number of threatening Fulham attacks.
It came as little surprise when Santos-Clase doubled the lead just before the break. He seized on a loose Swansea pass and skipped away from two defenders before using Abraham’s intelligent run as a decoy as he reached the penalty area and bending a low effort into the far corner. It was a superb individual strike that knocked the stuffing out of the Swans.
The contest followed a similar pattern after the interval. Santos-Clase was unfortunate not to complete his hat-trick five minutes into the second period when his rasping drive from the edge of the area rattled the crossbar after Swansea had failed to fully clear a Francois corner. The Spanish starlet also spurned two chances late on to claim the matchball. Fulham largely controlled the contest for the remainder of the evening, but were indebted to a superbly timed tackle from full-back Djed Spence that prevented Mason Jones-Thomas from racing through on Ashby-Hammond with twelve minutes to play.
The Whites have been handed a tricky trip to the competition’s giantkillers, Plymouth Argyle, in the quarter finals, with the Home Park tie scheduled for early February.
SWANSEA CITY UNDER 18s (4-2-3-1): Lang; Lewis, Blake (Evans 66), B. Cooper, Cabango; Price, de Boer; Jones-Thomas (J. Walsh 78), Hazel (M. Walsh 45), O. Cooper; Wynter-Coles. Subs (not used): Shepperd, Williams.
BOOKED: O. Cooper.
FULHAM UNDER 18s (4-2-3-1): L. Ashby-Hammond; Spence, Felix, S. Sessegnon, Mundle-Smith; Francois, Harris; Kelly, Santos-Clase, Hilton (York 80); Abraham (Martin 75). Subs (not used): Schwarzer, Garrido, Davis.
GOALS: Santos-Clase (22, 42).