Charlie Robinson headed in a late winner as Fulham’s under 21s won a see-saw seven-goal thriller against Tottenham Hotspur in the PL2 at Motspur Park last night.
The cultured centre back glanced Martial Godo’s corner past Spurs substitute goalkeeper Luca Gunter with nine minutes to play to seal a dramatic victory for Steve Wigley’s side after the young Whites had come from behind during an awesome advert for under-21 football. The teenage defender’s second goal of the season secured all three points for the hosts, who leapfrogged Liverpool to move up to third in the top flight – in their first term back at the top table of development football.
Wigley recalled George Wickens and Luke Harris to his starting line-up in place of Alex Borto and Terrell Works after the pair missed last weekend’s win at Blackburn. Summer signing Kristian Šekularac made a welcome return as a second half substitute after a long spell on the sidelines. It took just three minutes for the hosts to go in front as the highly-rated Harris sent Godo clear of the Tottenham defence with a beautifully threaded through ball. The 19 year-old kept his composure commendably to slot home his third goal of the season.
Spurs were playing plenty of purposeful football and caused problems for the home defence. It took a brave block from Jay Williams to prevent Kasey Cesay from equalising. Terry Ablade was denied by a sharp save from Josh Keely after shooting from an acute angle, but the visitors were getting more joy as Yago Santiago dropped into pockets of space between the Fulham defence and midfield. The Spanish forward, a scorer in the reverse fixture, sped away from Robinson to score after great play from Alfie Devine along the right flank.
The visitors’ defensive resolution was tested once the unfortunate Keely was replaced by Gunter having taken suffered a facial injury after repelling Ablade again, but they hit the front midway the first half. Santiago turned supplier this time, setting up former Chelsea forward Jude Soonsup-Bell, who fired his second goal as many outings into the bottom corner. Gunter pulled off a fine reaction save to deny Harris as Fulham sought an immediate riposte, but was soon picking the ball out of his own net after his attempted clearance was charged down by Ablade and the rebound restored parity.
In an increasingly open first half, Tottenham’s most potent threat came from the dazzling feet of Romaine Mundle. The winger waltzed through the Fulham defence in a sensational run that took him the Tottenham half into the penalty area before shooting fractionally wide a minute before half time but played a part in Spurs heading into the break ahead. His corner was headed home by Charlie Sayers, with a deflection leaving Wickens helpless. That wasn’t the end of a breathless first half, however, as Gunter saved from Ablade in added time.
The hosts emerged rejuvenated by what might have been a frank half-time team talk and put Tottenham under pressure after the restart. Devan Tanton, who had come close to scoring at Blackburn on Sunday, did find the net just before the hour mark but there was a touch of fortune about this one as his attempted cross from the right caught out Gunter and flew all the way in to make it 3-3. The equaliser did break Spurs back to life with Mundle embarking on another superb solo run and Santiago seeing a goal disallowed after the ball had gone out of play before it was crossed towards him.
Robinson, a consistent performer at both under-18 and under-21 level since joining Fulham two summers ago, guided his header across Gunter and inside the far post to put the home side in front. Wigley’s battlers still had to survive a period of serious Spurs pressure, during which referee Hiroyuki Kimura waved away penalty appeals for handball and Soonsup-Bell was crowded out in the area. This victory was testament to a character of a side that refuse to give up – and are still fighting for silverware on three fronts.
FULHAM UNDER 21s (4-2-3-1): Wickens; Tanton, Araujo, C. Robinson, D’Auria-Henry; Williams, Okkas (Šekularac 51); Sanderson, Godo, Harris; Ablade. Subs (not used): Allen, de Jesus, McCoy-Splatt, McFarlane.
BOOKED: Sanderson, Araujo.
GOALS: Godo (3), Ablade (31), Tanton (58), Robinson (81).
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR UNDER 21s (4-2-3-1): Keeley (Gunter 19); Abbott, Robson, Sayers, Fagan-Walcott; Cesay (Donley 68); Santiago, Mundle (Mathurin 77), Devine; Soonsup-Bell. Subs (not used): Cassanova, Dorrington.
GOALS: Santiago (9), Soonsup-Bell (25), Sayers (44).
REFEREE: Hiroyuki Kimura.