Fulham’s under 23s fell to a late defeat at Newcastle this afternoon as they failed to hold onto an early advantage handed to them by the in-form Jean-Pierre Tiehi.
An experienced Newcastle side, including first-team stars Ciaran Clarke, Paul Dummett, Matty Longstaff and Achraf Lazaar, made the early running at St. James’ Park but struggled to gain a reward for their adventure with a combination of dogged Fulham defending and wayward finishing letting them down. Clark created the game’s first chance with a surging run from the back but Yannick Toure dragged a finish wide of goal. Former Arsenal youngster Stan Flaherty was next to go close firing an effort wide wide from just outside the box before Lazaar also shot off target after a promising move.
Peruvian youngster Rodrigo Vilca pulled the strings in midfield on his first appearance in a Newcastle shirt and sent a speculative shot over the bar from distance, but it was Fulham who took the lead on 27 minutes. Terry Ablade, who had fired a couple early warnings with dangerous raids down the right, saw his shot saved by Dan Langley but the rebound fell kindly for Tiehi, who rolled a simple finish into the net. The Magpies might have levelled matters before the break but George Wickens made smart stops to deny Ludwig Francillette and Longstaff in quick succession.
The second period followed a similar pattern. Dummett and Clarke carved out a chance down the left only for Lazaar to lash wide having wriggled free in the area and the hosts went even closer when the lively Flaherty smashed a drive off the inside of the post before Wickens and his defenders scrambled the ball to safety. A goal did appear to be in the offing and Fulham’s defence finally caved in with eleven minutes left, when Flaherty picked out Toure after a fine run down the left and the forward’s finish cannoned in off the woodwork.
It was all Newcastle now. Vilca and Flaherty combined before the latter brought another reaction save from Wickens. Fulham’s reprieve was short-lived though, as Flaherty clinched victory for the Magpies with a wonderful long-range finish that left the young goalkeeper grasping at air. Wickens did make an excellent save from another Vilca drive from distance as time ticked down, but Fulham were unable to force an equaliser.
NEWCASTLE UNITED U23s: Langley; Rounsfell, Dummett (Gamblin 61), Francilette, Clark (Cross 61); M. Longstaff (Oliver 45), Scott, Lazaar, Vilca, Flaherty; Toure. Subs (not used): Brown.
GOALS: Toure (79), Flaherty (87).
FULHAM U23s: Wickens; Murphy, J. Aina, McAvoy, Ameyaw; Harris, De Havilland, Pajaziti (O’Neill 65), Davis; Ablade, Tiehi. Subs (not used): Schwarzer, Lanquedoc, Biereth.
GOAL: Tiehi (27).