Ollie Sanderson grabbed a late winner as Fulham’s under 23s made it two wins from two in the Premier League Cup by beating Stoke City 2-1 at Motspur Park this evening.
The young striker smashed home from close range with eight minutes to play, keeping his goal after an almighty scramble in the penalty area after Charlie Robinson had headed goalwards from a corner. Taye Ashby-Hammond then made a superb save to deny Tashan Oakley-Boothe as Steve Wigley’s side clung onto three precious points.
Wigley’s side had a different look about it tonight with Luciano D’Auria-Henry making only his second appearance of an injury-hit campaign and Jean-Pierre Tiehi handed his first start since rejoining the club earlier this month. Robinson and Devan Tanton stepped up from the under 18s with several regulars away on international duty.
Stoke made a bright start with their former Charlton winger Alfie Doughty looking particularly lively. The visitors forced a few early set-pieces but Taye Ashby-Hammond dealt easily with several crosses. Fulham registered their first attempt on goal when Imani Lanquedoc, operating on the left in place of Ollie O’Neill, pounced on some ponderous defending but his tame strike was comfortably saved by Nathan Broome.
The visitors continued to cause problems for Fulham at the back. Teenage striker Emre Tezgel, linked with a number of Premier League clubs already this summer, saw his dangerous run snuffed out by the home defence in the nick of time after he had darted in from the left wing. The home side’s football largely lacked its usual fluency, and Sanderson came the closest to breaking the deadlock before the interval. D’Auria-Henry surged through the centre and located Lanquedoc before the ball fell kindly for Sanderson, whose left-footed drive drifted fractionally wide.
Fulham did take the lead a couple of minutes after half time. Tiehi’s first goal of his second spell with the club was a peach: the French forward rifled an unstoppable effort into the top corner from about sixteen yards out. But Stoke hit back just before the half mark with a sensational strike of their own. Midfielder Adam Porter, fed by Demeaco Duhaney, powered a wonderful drive into the far corner to level matters.
It looked like it would remain that way until Sanderson showcased his poacher’s instincts to ensure Fulham hold maximum points from their first two matches.
FULHAM UNDER 23s (4-2-3-1): T. Ashby-Hammond; Tanton, Odutayo, McAvoy, C. Robinson; D’Auria-Henry (Caton 65), Page (Bowie 60); Hilton, Sanderson, Lanquedoc; Tiehi (Wildbore 74). Sub (not used): Borto.
GOALS: Tiehi (48), Sanderson (82).
STOKE CITY UNDER 23s (4-2-3-1): Broome; Duhaney, Coates, Macari, Trialist; Sparrow, Campbell; Doughty, Oakley-Boothe, Porter; Tezgel. Subs: Hemfrey, Roney, Malone, Wright-Phillips, Taylor.
GOAL: Porter (57).