A much-altered Fulham under 23 side suffered their first defeat of the season at Aggborough this evening as Wolves defeated Steve Wigley’s side 2-1 to register a fourth straight win and move level with the Whites at the top of the Premier League 2 Division 2 table.
Perhaps with tomorrow night’s League Cup tie in mind, Fulham made eight changes from the side that had seen off Southampton last Friday. Harvey Araujo, Charlie Robinson and Devan Tanton were promoted from the under 18s to form a rejigged defence. Terry Ablade returned to start up front and almost provided an early assist for Michael Olakigbe, but an offside flag ruled out the winger’s fine finish. Sonny Hilton curled agonising over in a bright start by the visitors, but it was Wolves who went ahead inside seven minutes.
Chem Campbell charged down the left, beating several Fulham defenders, and – although George Wickens got a hand to his shot – Owen Hesketh was on hand to bury the rebound. Ablade then rounded goalkeeper Louie Moulden after robbing Jack Scott but his finish after a fine solo run rolled just wide. Wickens smothered a shot from Pascal Estrada, but there was little further goalmouth action in a tight and even first half.
Moulden had to be alert right at the start of the second half to deny Ablade after the Finnish youth international looked set to latch onto a weak backpass and Luke Harris almost found space in the Wolves six-yard box, although to be denied by a brilliant saving tackle from Lewis Richards. Campbell threatened again at the other end, outstripping Tanton for pace, before blazing over but the lively Wolves forward would soon put the contest beyond the visitors.
Welsh youth international Hesketh was the architect of the decisive goal which came ten minutes from time – producing a lovely lay-off for Campbell, whose left-footed strike found the bottom corner for his first goal of the season. Idris Odutayo then cleared off the line to prevent Lee Harkin from adding a third. The visitors were enraged when the assistant referee ruled out a goal after Moulden had juggled with Hilton’s corner and fallen into his own net. After a long consultation on the touchline, a free kick was awarded for a foul on the goalkeeper.
Fulham did get a goal back when they were awarded a penalty in stoppage after Rafa Nya had hauled down Odutayo from a corner and Hilton stroked home his third of the season from the spot. The young Whites weren’t able to force an equaliser and they are now joint top of the table – alongside Norwich, Aston Villa and Wolves.
WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS UNDER 23s (3-4-3): Moulden; Scott (Agboola), Estrada, Richards; Birtwhistle, Nya, Griffiths (Hodnett 45), Cundle; Campbell, Hesketh, Carty (Harkin 72). Subs (not used): O’Shaughnessy, Kandola.
BOOKED: Scott, Birtwhistle, Hesketh.
GOALS: Hesketh (7), Campbell (80).
FULHAM UNDER 23s (4-2-3-1): Wickens; Tanton, Larkeche, Odutayo, Robinson; Araujo (Okkas 78), Harris; Hilton, Olakigbe, Sanderson; Ablade (Williams 61). Subs (not used): McNally, McAvoy.
GOAL: Hilton (pen 90).