A stoppage-time header from substitute Aaron Loupalo-Bi secured a second successive victory for Fulham’s under 18s at Reading this afternoon.
The young forward guided home Michael Olakigbe’s cross at the near post to snatch the points for Steve Wigley’s side, who were far from their fluent best but showed their resilience to preserve their 100 per cent record. The visitors had began brightly with Delano McCoy-Splatt’s free-kick blocked and Jaylan Wildbore firing wide from distance. Royals goalkeeper Matthew Rowley did brilliantly to keep out a deflected drive from Wildbore before Alfie McNally saved brilliantly from Louis Holzman’s header.
A brilliant bit of skill saw Imani Lanquedoc spin away from two defenders by the corner flag and his ambitious effort from an acute angle clipped the post on its way wide. The towering Thorsteinn Antonsson saw a thumping header saved at full stretch from Rowley but Reading almost stole the lead right on the stroke of half-time when Aston Greaver outsmuscled Antonsson but was denied by a defiant McNally.
The hosts had the better of the second half with Ben Purcell shooting straight at McNally and patiently putting together a good spell of pressure with some pretty passing. Fulham came on stronger as time ticked away with a trademark surging run from Olakigbe almost creating an opening for Wildbore before Abraham Kanu averted the danger. But Fulham weren’t to be denied with Loupalo-Bi, who had replaced Wildbore, forcing home from another excellent Olakigbe delivery to steal all three points in the second minute of stoppage time.
READING UNDER 18s (4-2-3-1): Rowley; Abrefa, Daniel-Spray (Addo-Antoine 72), Holzman (Murray 76), Kanu; Purcell, Campbell; Okine-Peters, Maunder, Vickers; Greaver (Nditi 63). Subs (not used): Borgnis, Norcott.
BOOKED: Purcell, Campbell.
FULHAM (4-2-3-1): McNally; Tanton, Araujo, Antonsson (de Fougerolles 64), Robinson; McCoy-Splatt, Caton (Okkas 80); Lanquedoc, Olakigbe, Wildbore (Loupalo-Bi 68); Sanderson. Subs (not used): Parker, Allen.
GOAL: Loupalo-Bi (90+2).
REFEREE: Benjamin Duffill.