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A brilliant hat-trick from Mika Biereth fired Fulham’s under 18s to an astonishing 8-0 win at Leicester City and kept the youngsters’ hopes of defending their Premier League title alive.

Steve Wigley’s side had the chance to go ahead inside the very first minute for the second week running. Where Kieron Bowie converted after just sixteen seconds against Reading, the Scottish forward was foiled by an excellent reaction save by Leicester goalkeeper Chituru Odunze after an incisive through ball from Mika Biereth.

The visitors made the breakthrough in the twelve minute thanks to a fine solo striker from skipper Ollie O’Neill. The Irish youth international slalomed away from several Foxes defenders before sliding a measured under Odunze from an acute angle. It was almost two shortly afterwards when Biereth rounded the goalkeeper and saw his shot scrambled off the goalline, with the referee waving away Fulham appeals for handball.

Luke Harris went close to doubling the lead when he headed Luciano D’Auria-Henry’s cross against the woodwork, but any frustration was shortlived. Wigley’s charges earned some further breathing space when Adrion Pajziti picked out Biereth and the eighteen year-old fired his tenth league goal of the campaign into the bottom corner. Biereth turned provider for Fulham’s third nine minutes before the break – supplying an inch-perfect cross that left Bowie with the simplest of finishes from close range.

It might have been worse for Leicester but for a couple of outstanding saves from Odunze, who punched away a drive from Biereth and tipping away another Bowie effort before half-time. Biereth doubled his tally after skipping away from the goalkeeper five minutes after the interval before laying another one for Bowie shortly afterwards.

Harris got himself on the scoresheet, poaching the Fulham’s sixth from a yard out after Odunze had kept out Bowie’s initial attempt. Substitute Olly Sandersen added a seventh shortly after being introduced from the bench forcing home after Biereth had headed a ball back across the face of goal. Fittingly, Biereth finished off the scoring by completing his hat-trick, rounding the goalkeeper and beating a covering defender to score after being released by a brilliant through pass from Matt Dibley-Dias.

Crystal Palace remain top of the table after recording their own emphatic win on the south coast – beating Brighton 5-1. But Fulham are three points behind the Eagles with a game in hand, and a far superior goal difference. The young Whites finish their season with two away games – at Norwich next Saturday afternoon and then against Chelsea on May 15th.

FULHAM U18s: Borto; D’Auria-Henry, Parkes, Bowat (Williams 66), Odutayo; Dibley-Dias, Harris, O’Neill; Bowie (Sanderson 71), Pajaziti (Okkas 77), Biereth. Subs (not used): Roberts, Lanquedoc.