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A Mika Biereth brace set Fulham’s under 18s on their way to a comfortable victory at Reading this afternoon as Steve Wigley’s side returned to the top of the table with a 5-1 win.

The young Whites showed considerable character to recover resoundingly from the worst possible start when Alfie Anderson gave the Royals a first-minute lead with a drive from distance that surprised Alfie McNally. The Fulham stopper then made a smart save to prevent from doubling Reading’s lead. The visitors gradually got into their stride, with a fine cross from Harvey Araujo narrowly eluding Olly Sanderson, and were only actually behind for six minutes – with Biereth rifling home from outside the box.

Biereth, who has been in fine form of late for the under 18s, almost created a second for Sanderson with some superb link up play down the right and then scored his second with ten minutes of the first half to play. Ollie O’Neil, who scored a stunning late winner to beat Chelsea last time out, got free down the left flank and crossed for Biereth to put Fulham into the lead. They went further in front five minutes later Biereth fed the lively Michael Olakigbe down the right. The young winger made steady progress down the wing and produced the perfect cross – giving Sanderson the simplest of finishes at the far post.

Olakigbe got the scoresheet himself after half-time. A lovely one-two between Luciano D’Aurio and Biereth opened up some space in the Reading defence and the marauding full-back found Olakigbe in space – with the talented teenager needing no second invitation to finish. There was almost a goalscoring return for substitute Kieron Bowie, but he was denied an instant impact by the Reading goalkeeper. Matt Dibley-Dias put the gloss on a fine return by curling in a great free-kick in added time – and Fulham will finish their pre-Christmas programme with the visit of Leicester City on Saturday lunchtime.

FULHAM UNDER 18s: McNally; D’Auria-Henry, Benjamin, Araujo, Parkes, Odutayo; O’Neill, Dibley-Dias, Olakigbe; Sanderson, Biereth.

GOALS: Biereth (7, 35), Sanderson (40), Olakigbe (56), Dibley-Dias (90).