Fulham’s under 23s survived a serious late Bromley onslaught to claim their second 1-1 draw of the week at Hayes Lane this afternoon.
Steve Wigley took charge of the side with the Whites still recruiting a new under 23 head coach following the reorganised of their academy set-up that was formally announced this morning. Just as at Slough on Wednesday night, Wigley gave a number of the stars of his title-winning under 18 side an opportunity to impress and a fluid front three didn’t contain a natural centre forward with the pacey Michael Olakigbe starting as the most central of the trio.
National League side Bromley featured a number of trialists in their opening pre-season runout and the first half was largely devoid of clear cut chances. Corey Whitely had the hosts’ first sight of goal but shot straight at Luca Ashby-Hammond. One of the Bromley trialists, Harry Forster, then unlocked the Fulham defence with a lovely through ball but Ashby-Hammond saved well after James Alabi had outsprinted Idris Odutayo to bear down on goal.
Fulham’s only real opening of the first period arrived when a neat interchange between Terry Ablade and Olakigbe created an opening for the Finnish teenager, but the Bromley goalkeeper improvised to save with his legs. Wigley’s side went in front seven minutes after the interval when Terry Ablade’s persistence paid off as he chased a long ball and capitalised on a poor header from a Bromley trialist, beating the goalkeeper to the ball and firing home the opener.
Bromley improved markedly when last season’s top scorer Michael Cheek was summoned off the bench. Fulham were fortunate to preserve their lead when Jonathan Page cleared a goalbound header off the line, but were pegged back with twenty minutes to play by a fine individual goal from another trialist, Louis Dennis. The former Leyton Orient winger cut inside and burst past two tacklers before stroking a composed finish into the corner to level matters.
The Ravens might well have won it in the closing stages. Substitute Jude Arthurs saw a snapshot from 20 yards well saved by George Wickens and the hosts then passed up two good chances in quick succession at the death. A trialist’s header from Arthurs’ corner was scrambled off the Fulham line before another header from a different trialist whistled wide.
The under 23’s are next in action at Charlton Athletic on Friday afternoon.
BROMLEY (4-4-2): Trialist; Partington, Webster, Bush, Trialist; Coulson, Bingham, Trialist, Trialist; Whitely, Alabi. Subs: Trialist, Trialist, Arthurs, Cheek, Trialist, Trialist, Roberts, Trialist, Trialist, Trialist, Trialist.
GOAL: Trialist (70).
FULHAM UNDER 23s (4-3-3): L. Ashby-Hammond; D’Auria-Henry, Larkeche, McAvoy, Odutayo; Okkas (Page 45), Harris, O’Neill; Pajaziti, Ablade, Olakigbe. Subs: Wickens, Parkes, Page, Lanquedoc, Tanton, Araujo.
GOAL: Ablade (52).
REFEREE: Constantine Hatzidakis.