A late strike from William Borges ended Fulham under 21’s unbeaten start to the Premier League 2 season as Manchester City edged a tight encounter at their Academy Stadium this afternoon. The hosts had the better of the second half and their incessant pressure paid off with fourteen minutes to play when the Portuguese winger found the bottom corner with a fine right-footed finish.
Alex Borto – excellent again throughout – made a superb save to prevent Borges from doubling City’s lead four minutes later but Fulham’s pursuit of an equaliser in the time that remained proved unsuccessful. Steve Wigley’s side had matched their illustrious opponents for much of a fascinating tactical tussle but will now have to bounce back from a narrow defeat against Everton after the international break on 30 September.
The Whites had made a promising start, pressing their hosts from the outset, with the energetic running of Terry Ablade to the fore. City gradually found ways through the press with Will Dickson testing Borto with a low drive from the edge of the area. Fulham were forced into a fair bit of last-ditch defending to preserve their clean sheet, with Charlie Robinson and Matt Dibley-Dias making vital clearances, but the clearest opening came at the other end, with Terry Ablade denied by a fine save from Mikki van Sas and then seeing a goal correctly chalked off for offside.
City began the second period on the foot front and Kieran Breckin spurned a very presentable chance to put them ahead. Oscar Bobb then raced past several defenders to fashion a glorious opportunity but the nippy Norwegian inexplicably failed to test Borto at all. Ollie O’Neill led Fulham’s threat on the counter attack, but the Whites had a lucky escape midway through the second half, with Dickson shot wide with it seemingly simpler to slot into the net after excellent approach play from Dire Mebude.
Borges eventually broke the deadlock with a precise finish to end Fulham’s flawless start at this level after promotion last season. It was probably what City’s dominance of possession deserved on the balance of the play, but the young Whites will be disappointed to have not been able to take a share of spoils back to London.
MANCHESTER CITY ELITE DEVELOPMENT SQUAD (4-3-3): van Sas, Lewis, Burns (Samuel 66), Taylor, Wilson-Esbrand; Adam (66′ Mebude), Charles, Breckin; Bobb, Dickson (89′ Ogwuru), Borges. Subs (not used): Knight, Smith.
GOAL: Borges (74).
FULHAM UNDER 21s (4-2-3-1): Borto; D’Auria-Henry, Araujo (Williams 80), C.Robinson, McAvoy; O’Neill, Pajaziti (Sekularac 81); Godo (McFarlane 71), Harris, Dibley-Dias, Ablade (Bowat 81). Subs (not used): McNally.