Fulham’s under 21s suffered their first defeat in six matches as they were beaten by Manchester United at Motspur Park this evening.

The Red Devils punished some slack defending to lead 2-0 at half-time thanks to strikes from Shola Shoretire and Joe Hugill. Steve Wigley’s side were much improved in the second period but, despite reducing their arrears late out through centre back Charlie Robinson, the young Whites couldn’t find a late leveller. The defeat leaves Fulham sixth in the PL2 table with their visitors climbing above West Ham into tenth.

It was the away side who made the stronger start. Kobbie Mainoo dribbled through the Fulham defence but saw his effort repelled by Robinson and Wickens and the centre back was soon pressed in service again to block a pair of attempts from the lively Hugill. At the other end, Luciano D’Auria-Henry saw a drive strike Rhys Bennett but United’s attacks were much more incisive, meaning there was little surprise when they took the lead just after the twenty minute mark.

Midfielder Mateo Meija got in front of Stefan Parkes and delivered a cross for the excellent Shoretire to open the scoring at the far post. The goal gave United a foothold in the contest and they began to look more confident in possession. The visitors doubled their lead thirteen minutes later when Hugill stroked in his second goal of the season. It might have been worse for the Whites as Isak Hansen-Aarøen and then Hugill spurned good chances to increase United’s advantage.

Fulham did belatedly apply some pressure as the first half drew to a close. Olly Sanderson’s smart flick from an Ollie O’Neill free-kick caused panic in the United defence but the Whites couldn’t capitalise and, in added time, O’Neill appeared to be taken out in the area as he shot towards goal but referee Matthew Russell waved away the penalty appeals, much to Wigley’s consternation.

Meija might have put United out of sight after capitalising on a poor Fulham pass but shot wildly wide, before the hosts upped their intensity. Terry Ablade hurried a volley after bright wing play from Martial Godo, but Robinson prodded him instinctively from close range to set up a grandstand finale. Sonny Hilton, who played more than 60 minutes off the bench following the early end to his loan spell at Carlisle, produced a lovely delivery that was headed wide by Harvey Araujo as the Whites’ attempts to complete their comeback proved unsuccessful.

FULHAM UNDER 21s (4-2-3-1): Wickens; D’Auria-Henry (Parkes 29), McAvoy, C. Robinson; Araujo, Pazajiti (Ablade 45); Godo, O’Neill, Dibley-Dias; Sanderson (de Fougerolles 45). Subs (not used): Bowat, Okkas.

BOOKED: de Fougerolles.

GOAL: C. Robinson (73).

MANCHESTER UNITED UNDER 21s (4-2-3-1): Vittek; Jurado, Hardley, Barnard, Bennett; Iqbal, Meija (Forson 68); Gore, Shoretire, Mainoo (Hansen-Aaröen 20); Hugill (McNeill 78). Subs (not used): Mastny, Kambwala.

BOOKED: Iqbal.

GOALS: Shoretire (21), Hugill (34).

REFEREE: Matthew Russell.