A first half brace from Reyes Cleary saw West Brom end Fulham’s under 18s unbeaten start to the season on Saturday afternoon.
The impressive Baggies striker put the hosts in front after just five minutes, advancing into the penalty area and firing clinically past Alfie McNally into the bottom corner. Michael Olakigbe came close to an equaliser for the visitors but didn’t get a clean connection having been found by Charlie Robinson – and his shot flew over the bar. The hosts went straight down the other end and doubled their lead with Clearly converted a free kick from the edge of the box after Robinson had been suckered into committing a foul.
Cleary could have had a hat-trick before half time but he headed a good chance over the crossbar and, although Fulham finished the first period on the front foot they couldn’t find a way back into the contest. Robinson looped a header over from a corner. Steve Wigley’s side kept pressing well into the second half but the Baggies held for their first victory of the season after Ronnie Hollingshead pulled off three fine saves to deny Delano McCoy-Splatt, Imani Lanquendoc and George Okkas.
WEST BROMWICH ALBION UNDER 18s (5-3-2): Hollingshead; Hall, Humphries, Chidi, Machisa; Higgins (Richards 64), Heard, Lamb; Love, Cleary (Okoka 50). Subs (not used): Oliver, Hudd, Hurlock, Tobi.
GOALS: Cleary (5, 21).
FULHAM UNDER 18s (4-2-3-1): McNally; Tanton, de Fougerolles, Araujo, Robinson; Okkas (Canton 84), Lanquedoc (Parker 59); McCoy-Splatt, Olakigbe, Tuma; Stansfield. Subs (not used): Conway, Works, Gofford.