Fulham under 18s kept their hopes of progressing through the group stages of the Premier League Cup by coming from behind to beat Leeds United in a five goal thriller at Motspur Park this afternoon.
The hosts recovered well from a disastrous start when Luca Thomas thumped a fine half volley past Alfie McNally to give Leeds the lead in the second minute after excellent approach play from Morten Spencer. McNally was nearly wrongfooted by a left wing cross from Joe Snowdon as the visitors threatened to double their advantage inside the opening ten minutes.
But Fulham found an equaliser with their first serious attack. Matt Dibley Dias found Jaylan Wildbore with a lovely through pass and the forward darted in from the right flank and curled a magnificent finish into the top corner. Wildbore almost turned matters completely around all by himself a couple of minutes later but the former Burton forward was denied by a smart reaction save from Harry Christy.
Imani Lanquedoc drilled an effort over the bar on the half hour mark before Max Dean replied in kind for Leeds – fizzing his drive a little too high. The dangerous Michael Olakigbe surged clear of the Leeds defence and then threaded a fine ball through to Lanquedoc, whose shot was straight at Christy. Dean nearly put the away side ahead just before the interval but McNally produced a sprawling save.
Fulham’s reprieve was only temporary as Dean seized on a poor pass in the home midfield and raced clear of the Whites defence before calmly lofting a clever finish over the onrushing McNally two minutes into added time. The visitors largely looked in control at the start of the second half with only Delano McCoy-Splatt testing Christy in the Leeds goal.
The visitors came close to making it three during a prolonged spell of pressure just after the hour mark. Dean probably should have done better than drag a shot wide after a brilliant run from Harvey Sutcliffe down the right and the Leeds centre forward was made to rue that miss when fifteen year-old Lemar Gordon rifled into the top corner just two minutes after stepping off the bench following adventurous running from Luc De Fougerolles, who had burst along the left wing.
Wildore saw a strike ruled out for offside, but Fulham put that disappointment behind them quickly and went in front with thirteen minutes to play. Ali Melloul’s youngsters put together an incisive counter attack with Ollie Sanderson slotting home after Leeds had been cut open through the centre of the pitch. The young Whites face Tottenham in their final group fixture on Saturday 27 November at Motspur Park.
FULHAM UNDER 18s (4-3-3): McNally; Tanton, Araujo, de Fougerolles, C. Robinson; Lanquedoc, Dibley-Dias (Works 57), McCoy-Splatt; Wildbore (Okkas 80), Olakigbe (Gordon 76), Sanderson. Subs (not used): Paternoster, Caton.
GOALS: Wildbore (21), Gordon (74), Sanderson (77).
LEEDS UNITED U18s (4-3-3): Christy; Sutcliffe (Godden 82), Ferguson, Debayo, Chilokoa-Mullen; Allen, Spencer, Gray; Thomas (Coleman 21), Snowdon (Andreucci 66), Dean. Subs (not used): Grainger, Bradbury.
BOOKED: Gray, Allen.
GOALS: Thomas (2), Dean (45+2).