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In-form Kieron Bowie grabbed another brace as Fulham’s under 18s thrashed Reading 5-1 yesterday at the LSE to return to the top of the table.

The Scottish striker took his tally to thirteen goals in the last ten games as Steve Wigley’s side eventually brushed aside a spirit challenge from the Royals to move above Crystal Palace on goal difference. Fulham didn’t have to wait long for Bowie to break the deadlock as the former Raith Rovers forward powered into shooting range and fired his finish under Matthew Rowley with just sixteen seconds gone.

Bowie saw an instinctive strike well blocked by Jay Senga after excellent approach play down the left from Idris Odutayo. Reading then were unfortunate not to draw level when, first, Harvey Maudner’s free-kick clipped the top of the crossbar and then Alex Borto produced an outstanding save to prevent Hamid Abdel-Salam scoring from a tight angle.

Irish youth international Ollie O’Neill doubled Fulham’s lead just after the half hour when he latched onto a fine flick from Bowie and poked home. The visitors got a deserved lifeline six minutes before the break when Jahmari Clarke emphatically converted David Nyarko’s pull back. But Fulham restored their two-goal cushion right on half time. O’Neill sent over a devilish free-kick, Ibane Bowat climbed well to meet it and the ball fell invitingly for his compatriot Bowie, who needed no second invitation to sweep it home.

The open nature of the contest continued after the interval. Highly-rated winger Michael Olakigbe was denied by Rowley at one end before Louie Holzman header over after a bout of pinball in the Fulham box. The only blot on Bowie’s copybook during another accomplished performance was when he spurned a glorious opportunity to register a hat-trick, skying his penalty over the bar after O’Neill had been felled in the box.

The miss would not prove too costly as, after Rowley had athletically denied Luke Harris, Wigley’s charges wrapped up the contest. Matt Dibley-Dias’ powerful strike took a deflection that left Rowley helpless before Odutayo rounded Fulham’s sixth straight win with a thumping finish, although there was more than a suspicion of handball in the warm-up. The Whites are top of the table with three games remaining – a tricky trip to Leicester City is up next.

FULHAM (4-3-3): Borto; Parkes, Bowat, Williams, Odutayo; Dibley-Dias, Harris (Sanderson 85’), O’Neill; Olakigbe (Lanquedoc 66), Stansfield, Bowie. Subs (not used): Antonsson, Okkas, Caton.