A brace from Terry Ablade secured a sixth straight win for Fulham’s under 23s as they beat Middlesbrough 2-0 at Motspur Park earlier this afternoon.
The Finnish under 21 international forward got Steve Wigley’s side off the perfect start seven minutes in powering home a fine header from Ziyad Larkeche’s cross. Jay Stansfield, operating in the hole just behind Ablade, almost made it two moments later with a blistering drive from distance that rattled the crossbar.
Terence Kongolo came through another ninety minutes in his comeback from serious injury but the Dutch defender was almost responsible for handing Middlesbrough an equaliser. His poor pass allowed the visitors to open up the Fulham back line but Pharrell Williams fired against the post from close range when it seemed easier to score. Boro would rue that miss when a fine floated cross from Sonny Hilton saw Ablade double his tally just after the half hour. He now has seven goals in nine games this season.
Hilton, in fine form this season, nearly added a third when his deflected effort went just wide of goal after a brilliant solo break. He came even closer in the closing stages of the first half – hitting the crossbar with a left-footed strike – before Kieron Bowie was denied by a brilliant save from Max Metcalfe.
The Boro goalkeeper then made a routine save to deny Ablade a hat-trick when the striker tried to lift a finish over Metcalfe after being found by Hilton’s majestic ball over the away defence. Graeme Lee’s side made a spirited attempt to get back into the contest with Sam Folarin unfortunate not to reduce their arrears with a low shot that flew fractionally wide of Alex Borto’s goal.
Stansfield was denied by another excellent Metcalfe save before the former Exeter forward and Hilton both narrowly failed to connect with substitute Ollie O’Neill’s inviting cross. Borto made a smart stop from Jack Stott in the closing stages and Middlesbrough’s miserable afternoon was completed when full back George Gitau saw red for a wild lunge at Jonathon Page in added time.
FULHAM UNDER 23s (4-2-3-1): Borto; Fossey, Larkeche, McAvoy, Kongolo; S. Sessegnon (Page 66), Pajaziti; Bowie (Tiehi 81), Hilton, Stansfield; Ablade (O’Neill 68). Subs (not used): Las, Odutayo.
GOALS: Ablade (7, 31).
MIDDLESBROUGH UNDER 23s (4-2-3-1): Metcalfe; Gitau, Gibson, Sykes, Beals; Malley, Cornet (M. Dijksteel 72); Sivi, Willis (Finch 68), Stott; Folarin (Balde 82). Subs (not used): Bulmer, Reed.
BOOKED: Stott, Gibson, Malley.
SENT OFF: Gitau (90+2).