Fulham’s under 18s ended a run of four games without a win as they outplayed league leaders Chelsea to win the west London derby 2-0 at Cobham this afternoon. An early strike from winger Michael Olakigbe was followed by brilliant counter-attacking goal from Imani Lanquedoc as the young Whites produced the perfect away display to claim all three points.
Ali Melloul drafted in under-23 regulars Charlie Robinson and Luke Harris to his starting line-up and the visitors made the perfect start after just two minutes. The lively Olakigbe cut in from the right wing and his 25-yard strike took a wicked deflection leaving Chelsea goalkeeper Tud Curd completely helpless.
Fulham pressed relentlessly from the outset, unsettling Chelsea’s passing rhythm and leaving the Blues often unable to get out of their own half. Lanquedoc spurned a great opportunity to double the lead midway through the first half when he blazed over from about six yards after a flowing move from the back chiselled out an opening. But the midfielder made no mistake when found by a low Harris cross from the right, firing high into the net to put clear water between the sides just after the half hour mark.
The young Whites might have made it three before half time when Olly Sanderson, who led the line superbly, headed narrowly wide from a teasing Olakigbe cross. Chelsea changed shape at half-time, sending on midfielder Billy Gee, and enjoyed their best spell of the match at the start of the second half. Leo Castledine glanced a header wide from Brodi Hughes’ cross and Edwin Andersson rifled an effort past the post as the home side pushed for a route back into the contest.
Fulham remained a threat on the break and Lanquedoc was unlucky not to settle matters when his drive was bravely blocked by the covering Hughes. The hosts almost found a lifeline through Silko Thomas, who ventured infield from the right flank, and fired fractionally wide of Michael Allen’s far post with real venom. The visitors still looked likely to add to their advantage with Sanderson latching onto a lovely through ball from Robinson but the young striker shot straight at Curd.
CHELSEA UNDER 18s (4-3-3): Curd; Hughes, Abu (Gee 45), Tobin, Terry; Castledine, Rak-Sakyi, Mendel-Idowu (Silcott-Duberry 66); Thomas, Andersson, Stutter (Flower 78). Subs (not used): Adegoke, Olise.
FULHAM (4-2-3-1): Allen; Tanton, Parkes, C. Robinson, Araujo; McCoy-Splatt, Harris; Olakigbe, Okkas (Benjamin 81), Lanquedoc (Gordon 75); Sanderson. Subs (not used): McNally, Parker, Works.
GOALS: Olakigbe (2), Lanquedoc (31).