Fulham and Chelsea had to be content with a share of the spoils after a see-saw under-18 west London derby finished 4-4 at Motspur Park this afternoon. Luke Harris’ second half brace looked to have pinched the points for Ali Melloul’s youngsters but the home side were denied by the second of a pair of strikes from Jude Soonsup-Bell with six minutes left. The Blues also missed a second half penalty in a crazy game that cantered from end to end.
A scrappy start gave way to disaster six minutes in when Harvey Araujo slipped on the edge of his own penalty area, allowing Edwin Andersson to nip in and slip a simple finish under the stranded Alex Borto. The hosts almost offered an immediate reply with Prince Adegoke pushing Imani Lanquedoc’s rising drive over the bar after Araujo had conjured up a brilliant pass to find the midfielder. The young Whites drew level on eleven minutes when some patient build-up play culminated in Araujo delivering a lovely low cross for Jaylan Wildbore to find the corner.
That sparked a prolonged spell of Fulham pressure. Araujo almost made further amends with a header from Matt Dibley-Dias’ corner before Wildbore whacked a drive straight at Adegoke in the Chelsea goal. Dibley-Dias then drifted a delicious curler agonisingly wide, but Araujo grabbed the second goal with a fine header after the visitors had struggled to clear Delano McCoy-Splatt’s corner.
Chelsea came roaring back. Borto just about kept out Louis Flowers’ measured finish and then produced an even better save when Flowers turned provider, somehow denying Andersson with the goal gaping at close range. But the Blues were level two minutes later when Soonsup-Bell glanced a great header home from Lewis Hall’s devilish delivery. Ed Brand’s side stormed into the lead within three minutes when Soonsup-Bell surged down the right flank and sent in a cross-cum-shot that Borto batted away, but Andersson was on hand to power home from close range.
Fulham appeared shellshocked by the sudden turnaround but went on the front foot after composing themselves during the half-time break. Olly Sanderson might have brought them level in the early stages of the second period but the striker blazed over at the back post after a patient move unlocked the Chelsea defence. The lively Luke Harris went close with a low drive from distance and it was the prodigiously-talented Welsh teenager who levelled matters with a moment of magic ten minutes into the second half.
Harris, who has featured for Steve Wigley’s under 23 side already this season, gave another reminder of his unerring eye for goal when he curled a majestic right-footed finish into the far corner from 20 yards as Chelsea foolishly stood off him. The gripping contest appeared to have tilted towards the visitors again midway through the second period when Soonsup-Bell was brought down by Araujo in the area. The striker and Lewis Hall squabbled over who should take the spot-kick with the latter prevailing, only for Borto to pull off a brilliant diving save.
Substitute Michael Olakigbe then won Fulham a penalty at the other end and Harris blasted it straight down the centre of the goal to put the hosts ahead. But the young Whites couldn’t hold on to claim all three points as Luke Badley-Morgan’s cross was superbly controlled by Soonsup-Bell who turned to thump a terrific finish in off the crossbar. The only surprise was that the frantic finale didn’t produce a winner – but perhaps it was fitting that this pulsating contest ended all square.
FULHAM UNDER 18s (4-4-2): Borto; Tanton, de Fougerolles, C. Robinson, Araujo; McCoy-Splatt, Dibley-Dias (Okkas 90), Lanquedoc, Harris; Sanderson, Wildbore (Olakigbe 65). Subs (not used): McNally, Works, Caton.
BOOKED: Tanton, de Fougerolles.
GOALS: Wildbore (11), Araujo (23), Harris (55, pen 76).
CHELSEA UNDER 18s (4-1-3-2): Adegoke; Olise (Abu 88), Tobin, Hughes, Silcott-Duberry (Badley-Morgan 71); Hall; Webster, Andersson, Thomas (Mendel-Idowu 78); Flower, Soonsup-Bell. Subs (not used): Merrick, Tiemcani.
GOALS: Andersson (6, 33), Soonsup-Bell (30, 85).