Fulham’s under 18s were held to a goalless draw by West Ham in a dour London derby at Little Heath this morning.

Kevin Keen’s young Hammers made the stronger start with the referee waving away penalty appeals for handball against Charlie Robinson. A brilliant set-piece delivery from Lewis Orford whistled right across the area before George Earthy was denied an opening goal by an offside flag. Earthy followed up after the recalled Alex Borto had saved Divin Mubama’s free-kick, but was contentiously adjudged offside.

Borto thwarted Earthy again after an hour and centre back Kaelan Casey might have felt he should have done better than send a diving header wide when he had been left unattended at a corner. The Hammers were well on top and Gideon Kodua drove over after being found by a good Junior Robinson cross.

Fulham were grateful to remain level at the interval, but they almost went behind early in the second half when Kodua somehow fired over from close range after latching onto a low centre from Mubama. Ali Melloul’s side, which was virtually full strength apart from George Okkas who has already travelled to join up with Cyprus on international duty, gradually got a foothold in the game but it took until midway through the second period for them to create a clear chance. Luke Harris peeled away to reach Delano McCoy-Splatt’s ball in but headed wide at the back post.

Harris looked the most likely source of a Fulham goal but the Welsh midfielder was denied a winner by a brilliant save from Jacob Knightbridge after taking aim from 25 yards. Winger Michael Olakigbe nearly benefitted from the blustery wind in the closing stages when his cross almost caught out the West Ham goalkeeper – but both sides had to settle for a point despite the late excitement.

WEST HAM UNITED UNDER 18s (3-5-2): Knightbridge; Tarima, Forbes (Falase 56), Casey; Robinson, Clayton, Earthy (Soglo 74), Orford, Scarles; Mubama, Kodua. Subs (not used): Evans.

BOOKED: Mubama.

FULHAM UNDER 18s (4-2-3-1): Borto; Tanton, de Fougerolles, Araujo, C. Robinson; McCoy-Splatt, Lanquedoc; Wildbore (Works 76), Olakigbe, Harris; Sanderson. Subs (not used): McNally, Antonsson, Caton, Parker.

BOOKED: McCoy-Splatt, Lanquedoc.