Late goals from Aaron Loupalo-Bi and Callum Osmand saw Fulham’s under 18s come from behind to beat Rochdale and win a thrilling FA Youth Cup third round tie at the Crown Oil Ground last night.

The young Whites were staring at elimination from the competition at the earliest possible stage for the second season in succession when Anisio Jesus put the enterprising hosts 3-2 in front with a quarter of an hour to go – but Steve Wigley’s side summoned up serious reserves of character to come from behind and ruthlessly take their chances in the closing stages to book a trip to Sunderland in round four.

Wigley had drafted in a couple of under-21 regulars into defence in the form of Charlie Robinson and Harvey Araujo, whilst a lack of available left backs saw Ollie Gofford asked to step into the back four. That didn’t look like being much of a problem as Fulham took the lead after only three minutes when the in-form Loupalo-Bi punished Dale keeper Ellis Craven for dwelling in possession on the edge of his own box, won the ball and rounded the goalkeeper before firing into the unguarded net.

Fulham had chances to increase their lead with Osmand seeing a shot bravely blocked by George Nevett. Rochdale began to get into the game themselves and almost equalised when their high pressing game almost caught out Fulham’s desire to play football from the back. John Dunlop drove over from inside the box, but the Cottagers failed to heed the warning. Rochdale did level after Joe Cunningham intercepted a poor pass from Alfie McNally and, after a good passing move, picked out Darren Ehimamiegho, who found the corner with a precise finish.

Nine minutes before the break, Rochdale went in front. Cunningham snapped into a tackle to win the ball back and produced a peach of pass to put Ehimamiegho through on goal and the centre forward slotted under the body of an advancing McNally. The hosts weren’t able to hold out until half time, however, when Araujo swung in a superb cross from the left and Osmand pounced to power a shot from Josh King into the net.

Both sides had chances to go in front at the start of a second half that swung from end to end. Oscar Kelly saw his effort deflected wide by Robinson before the lively Lemar Gordon shot straight at the goalkeeper. It was Dale who got what looked like being a crucial fifth goal when Jesus spun superbly in the area and fired home from six yards out, but Fulham were far from finished.

Loupalo-Bi produced his own moment of magic to shimmy away from a covering defender and equalise from ten yards before, in the most of dramatic of finales, Osmand pounced on a poor clearance to steal a winner in the final minute of normal time. Rochdale did have chances during eight agonising added minutes, with the clearest opportunity falling to substitute Brooklyn Bailey, who lashed over after a flick on from a free kick.

ROCHDALE UNDER 18s: Craven, Cunningham, Sutton, Dos Santos, Watts, Nevett, Jesus, Kyffin, Ehimamiegho, Dunlop (Bailey 45+2’), Kelly. Subs (not used): MacLorg, Anderson, Greenwell, Burgess, Yaduat, Ayub.

GOALS: Ehimamiegho (19, 36), Jesus (76).

FULHAM UNDER 18s: McNally, Amissah, Gofford, Robinson, Araujo; King, McCoy-Splatt; Gordon, Olyott, Osmond; Loupalo-Bi. Subs: Allen, Nwoko, Park, Bogle-Campbell, Wingate, Ali-Wahid.

GOALS: Loupalo-Bi (3, 87), Osmand (44, 89).