Idris Odutayo scored a stoppage-time winner as Fulham’s under 21s got their Premier League Cup campaign over to a winning start in a nine goal thriller against Hull City at Motspur Park this afternoon.
Odutayo, on loan at Maidenhead but able to play in academy fixtures under the terms of his deal, came on at the start of the second half but – like most modern full backs – made the biggest impact in the opposition’s penalty area. He produced a terrific burst of pace to skin Hull’s right back Jack Leckie before his cross-cum-shot flew into the net having taken a deflection off the unfortunate Jake Leake. Steve Wigley’s side were dangerous every time they went forward but they saw the visitors roar into the lead from 2-0 down and go ahead again with twenty minutes to play. It took every ounce of character for the young Whites to come back.
Wigley made six changes to his starting line-up with Saturday’s trip to Manchester City in mind. Alex Borto replaced George Wickens in goal, with Devan Tanton and Ibane Bowat recalled in place of Luciana D’Auria-Henry and Conroy McAvoy. The new engine room partnership of converted midfielder Jay Wilkiams alongside Giorgos Okkas, with Callum McFarlane leading the line.
McFarlane, who has made a real mark since signing in the summer, created the contest’s first opportunity by releasing Kristian Šekularac and the Swiss under-21 international’s cut back was placed fractionally wide of the far post by Matt Dibley-Dias. The hosts took the lead in the eighteenth minute with a move of exquisite quality. Charlie Robinson’s raking pass put Tanton in behind the Hull defence and the American’s excellent cross was superbly headed home by McFarlane.
It was 2-0 eight minutes later. Luke Harris celebrated his call up to the senior Welsh squad with another splendidly taken goal, lifting a finish over a stranded Tom Macauley, after McFarlane’s pass had deflected off Alfie Taylor into the seventeen year-old’s path. The attacking midfielder had the presence of mind to chip the onrushing goalkeeper rather than go for power – and was rewarded with his fifth goal of the campaign,
But Hull, who reached the final of this competition a couple of years ago, showed no signs of lying down. Coach Andy Dawson had started with two strikers and his team were full of technical proficiency and clever touches. Winger Josh Hinds fashioned a lifeline for the Tigers just before the half hour when he darted away from Tanton and cut inside past Williams before surprising Borto at his near post with a low shot. Hull were level within three minutes of the restart when the lively Sincere Hall fired an effort at goal and it took a hefty deflection that gave Borto no chance.
Things got even worse for Fulham when Hinds scored his second of the afternoon three minutes before the hour mark. The winger punished some slack marking at the back post by squeezing a shot between the diving Borto and the frame of the goal – before rushing off to deliriously acclaim a scarcely credible turnaround. Wigley turned to his bench sending on Adrion Pajaziti and Martial Godo to find a route back into the contest – something which transpired almost immediately.
Godo won a spot-kick after a wild challenge from Matty Jacob was eventually penalised by referee Adrian Quelch after a lengthy delay. The stoppage didn’t bother Pajazit who sent Macauley the wrong way from twelve yards with his first touch since stepping off the bench. In keeping with an encounter that swung wildly from one end to the other, parity lasted barely ten minutes. Borto was to blame, spilling a shot from Harry Wood that he should have held straight into the path of Jim Simms, who followed up to restore Hull’s advantage.
Godo and Terry Ablade linked up well to bring Fulham level once more with nine minutes to play. Ablade stripped Leake of possession and burst into the box. His cross wasn’t perfect for Godo, who controlled it with his left foot and shifted the ball onto his right in a crowded penalty area, finding the bottom corner with a brilliant daisycutter. Fulham had to wait until the fourth minute of stoppage time to find their winner, with Odutayo stepping up to seal all three points – although even that goal could interest the dubious’ goals panel in due course.
FULHAM UNDER 21s (4-2-3-1): Borto; Tanton, Araujo (Odutayo 45), C. Robinson, Bowat; Williams, Okkas (Godo 57); Dibley-Dias (Ablade 45), Sekularac, Harris; McFarlane (Pajaziti 57). Subs (not used): McNally.
GOALS: McFarlane (18), Harris (26), Pajaziti (pen 60), Godo (81), Odutayo (90+4).
HULL CITY UNDER 21s (4-4-2): Macauley; Leckie, Leake, Lovick, Taylor; Jacob, Wood (Fanning 90+1), Chorlton (Green 64), Hinds (Osbourne 64); Simms, Hall (Wallis 84). Subs (not used): Wilson.
BOOKED: Wood, Hall.
GOALS: Hinds (29, 57), Hall (48), Simms (70).
REFEREE: Adrian Quelch