A young Fulham side showed a combination of composure and impressive technical ability as their began their pre-season programme with a goalless draw at Bromley this afternoon.
On a muggy afternoon and playing on an unfamiliar 4G pitch, Fulham took a while to settle against experienced and physical opponents. Bromley began on the front foot with former Charlton forward Reeco Hackett-Fairchild creating space for himself inside the area but dragging a shot disappointing across goal after three minutes. Taye Ashby-Hammond easily fielded an effort from Luke Coulson and when the England youth international palmed out Adrian Clifton’s strike, Michael Cheek’s follow-up was ruled out for offside.
Fulham’s under 23s, jointly managed by Mark Pembridge and Colin Omogbehin for the first time, were pleasing on the eye and eager to play out of the back. Sonny Hilton ran the show almost effortlessly from a deep-lying playmaker’s role, whilst Fabio Carvalho’s clever movement constantly caused problems for the Bromley defence. Carvalho and Timmy Abraham, who was watched from the stands by his older brother, almost linked impressively to open the scoring but Sam Wood splendidly read the danger.
Captain Conor McAvoy, whose excellent progression through the youth ranks was rewarded with a professional contract at the end of last week, looked assured at centre back alongside a new partner in Ben Tricker. Fulham’s patient probing football began to fashion a few further chances as the first half ticked along. Carvalho worked some space on the edge of the box and curled an effort fractionally wide before Abraham steered a shot straight at the goalkeeper after a strong run from Tushaun Walters.
Fulham’s best two openings of the game arrived within a minute of each other just before the break. First, Hilton and Carvalho combined with the latter’s powerful drive from just outside the box coming back off the post. Then, Carvalho sent Abraham scampering through on goal and, although the nippy forward guided his finish past Mark Cousins, he failed to hit the target.
Bromley emerged an almost entirely different eleven after the break and Billy Bingham almost caught Ashby-Hammond unawares from the restart when his shot from the centre circle landed on the roof of the net. The pattern of the first half took hold again with the visitors dominating possession and playing precise passing football. Carvalho curled one wide from 25 yards before Hilton jinked his way past a defender and bent an effort towards the top corner, drawing a superb save from Cousins.
Terry Ablade, introduced as a second half substitute down the right flank, almost had an immediate impact as his pace unsettled the Bromley defence and his deep cross found Sylvester Jasper unmarked at the back post but the winger’s shot lacked the conviction to beat a newly-introduced trialist in the Bromley goal. Fulham lost some penetration and impetus after Hilton was replaced midway through the second half and it was the hosts who finished the stronger.
The lively Korey Henry posed real problems for the Fulham back line. He fed Trialist E, who stepped inside Luca Murphy, and skimmed the crossbar with a rising drive before outmuscling Tricker and shooting agonisingly wide. Bingham almost won the contest with virtually the game’s last kick, an excellently flighted free-kick from the edge of the box, but Ashby-Hammond produced a fine reaction save to palm it away to safety.
BROMLEY (4-4-2): Cousins (Trialist B), Wood (Okoye), Higgs (Bingham), Holland (Trialist C; Brefo), Coulson (Henry), Raymond (Craske; Trialist F), Cheek (Cripps; Tanner), Bush (Ojemen) , Clifton (Ogunmekan), Hackett-Fairchild (Trialist D), Trialist A (Trialist E).
FULHAM XI (4-3-3): T. Ashby-Hammond; Asare (Murphy 66), Neufville, McAvoy, Tricker; de Havilland, Hilton (Page 66), Carvalho; Walters (Ablade 60), Jasper, Abraham.
REFEREE: Lee Brennan