Fulham crashed out of the FA Youth Cup after losing a five-goal thriller full of drama to Everton at Goodison Park this evening. The hosts dominated the first half but Ali Melloul’s side went in front through a predatory finish from Ollie Robinson, who followed up a Luke Harris shot. Everton eventually made their superiority tell thanks to a second half double from Stanley Mills, whose second deflected viciously in off of substitute Stefan Parkes. The young Fulham left back was then involved in a horrible mix-up with goalkeeper Alex Borto, allowing Francis Okorokwo to tap home a third from barely a yard out.
The action wasn’t finished even in injury with Toffees’ captain Matthew Mallon sent off for a late tackle on Harris, who was also dismissed for reacting angrily to the challenge and sparking a twelve-man brawl. The referee initially showed the red card to Matt Dibley-Dias before being alerted to his error and the classy midfielder crashed in a phenomenal free-kick off the far post but Fulham could not force an equaliser.
Everton had the better of a watchable first half but proved unable to make their superiority show on the scoreboard. Elijah Campbell sent a header wide from a free-kick and Borto saved well from Katia Kouyate with Mallon wasting the follow up. Having barely had a sight of goal, the Whites went in front when Harris was afforded too much room to line up a shot from the edge of the area and Sanderson reacted smartly to slot home from close range after Patrick Nash failed to hold on.
The Everton goalkeeper made amends by denying Imani Lanquedoc at his near post and the home side certainly should have been level by the interval. Borto pushed away a fierce drive from Jenson Metcalfe and Charlie Walker did superbly to collect a pass from Isaac Price and spin past Harvey Araujo but stabbed an improvised finish wide of goal,
Fulham fashioned a good chance to double their lead after the break when Everton failed to clear a free kick and Harris flashed a shot just past the post. Dibley-Dias then curled an excellent long-range effort fractionally wide. Everton equalised just before the hour mark through a fine move. Whitaker darted in from the left flank and unlocked the away defence with a slide-rule ball that released Mills, who slipped a low finish beyond Borto. The game was completely transformed eight minutes later when Mills beat Araujo after cutting in from the right and saw his shot nestle in the far corner after deflecting off Parkes.
A miserable cameo for the Fulham substitute then saw him get a backpass to Borto horribly wrong and Okorokwo gleefully accepted the gift to seemingly end the contest. But after an unsavoury melee followed the set-to between Mallon and Harris, Dibley-Dias – easily Fulham’s finest performer on a disappointing evening – bent a brilliant free-kick in off the back post from an acute angle. It proved academic as the young Whites exited the Cup at the first hurdle for the second season in succession.
EVERTON UNDER 18s (4-2-3-1): Nash; Mallon, Samuels-Smith, Campbell, Welch; Metcalfe, Butterfield; Mills, Whitaker, Price; Kouyate (Okorokwo 45). Subs (not used): Stewart, Dixon, Tierney, Heath, Lawrence, Sherif.
SENT OFF: Mallon (90+4).
GOALS: Mills (59, 67), Okorokwo (85).
FULHAM (4-2-3-1): Borto; Tanton (McCoy-Splatt 72), de Fougorelles (Parkes 45), C. Robinson, Araujo; Benjamin, Dibley-Dias; Harris, Wildbore (Olakigbe 68), Lanquedoc; Sanderson. Subs (not used): McNally, Parker, Okkas, Gordon.
BOOKED: de Fougorelles, Araujo.
SENT OFF: Harris (90+4).
GOALS: Sanderson (22), Dibley-Dias (90+6).