A super strike from Luke Harris secured a return to winning ways for Fulham’s under 21s as they won a tight London derby against Arsenal at Motspur Park this evening.

The Welsh youth international produced another moment of magic to secure a precious three points for Steve Wigley’s side seven minutes into the second half. The young Whites staged a superb response after seeing Olly Sanderson’s opener cancelled out by Amario Cozier-Duberry forty seconds after the interval. Martial Godo thought he had restored the hosts’ lead from Fulham’s first attack after conceding the equaliser but the former Margate winger’s celebrations were curtailed by an offside flag.

But Harris fired in his tenth under-21 goal of another productive campaign with a brilliant bit of individual skill. The attacking midfielder dashed away from an Arsenal defender in the penalty area and squeezed his shot between goalkeeper Hubert Graczyk and the near post. That fine finish secured a hard-fought victory that lifted Wigley’s charges up to fifth place in the PL2 table.

Wigley sprung a surprise with both his selection and system, by ditching the usual 4-2-3-1 formation for a three at the back that saw newly-capped Welsh under-21 international Jay Williams operating at centre half. That switch didn’t affect Fulham’s fluent football with the Whites almost making a superb start inside the first minute when a purposeful run from Harris forced Graczyk into making a hurried clearance with the talented teenager haring down on goal.

Arsenal looked dangerous when they had the ball and it didn’t take long for the Gunners to put Fulham under pressure. Romanian midfielder Catalin Cirjan cut inside to find the space for a shot but blazed over before Mauro Bandeira┬ádid brilliantly to play in Charles Sagoe Jr but the teenage winger shot wide of goal. In a positive period of play for the visitors, Matt Smith then supplied a superb pass to send Khayon Edwards clear but a heavy touch from the forward allowed George Wickens to intervene.

Fulham remained adventurous and, after Sanderson was dubiously flagged offside, Godo was afforded the opportunity to run at the Arsenal rearguard with the ball at his feet before testing Gracyzk with a drive from about 20 yards. A brilliantly timed challenge from Henry Jeffcott denied Terry Ablade as the Fulham forward looked to latch onto a lovely through ball from Sanderson, who shone once again in a central midfield role.

Ablade then saw a fierce drive well saved by Graczyk as he let fly from a tight angle, but the Whites did go in front just before the break. A rasping drive from George Okkas proved too hot to handle for Graczyk and Sanderson showcased his striker’s instincts, following up to head home the rebound. Fulham finished the half in fine fettle with Harris seeing a shot deflected wide and Ablade heading a good chance over.

Arsenal head coach Mehmet Ali made a half-time substitution sending on Cozier-Duberry for Cirjan and the winger needed less than a minute to bring the Gunners level. A superb move from saw Sagoe cut the ball back for Cozier-Duberry to find the net with a clinical finish within forty seconds of the restart. Godo was frustrated by the assistant referee’s flag after he turned home a Sonny Hilton cross, but Harris seized his opportunity to fire Fulham back in front.

That great goal galvanised the young Whites. Ablade again pulled the trigger from acute angle but the ball whistled over the crossbar and Matt Dibley-Dias then had a snapshot deflected over from just outside the box after Arsenal had failed to clear a corner. Godo was thwarted by Graczyk twice in quick succession, with Sanderson clipping the crossbar with a superb strike from distance.

The hosts were almost punished for failing to take those chances when Sagoe found Edwards in the area with three minutes to go, but the striker’s shot drifted wide of goal after he had made a clever near post run.

FULHAM UNDER 21s (3-3-3-1): Wickens; Williams, Araujo, Odutayo; Okkas. Dibley-Dias, Sanderson; Hilton, Godo, Harris; Ablade (McFarlane 84). Subs (not used): Borto, Essenga, Wahid.

BOOKED: Dibley-Dias, Harris.

GOAL: Sanderson (41), Harris (52).

ARSENAL UNDER 21s (4-2-3-1): Graczyk; Lannin-Sweet, Jeffcott, Monlouis, Awe (Lewis-Skelly 63); Smith, Bandeira; Sagoe, Cirjan (Cozier-Duberry 45), Cottrell; Edwards. Subs (not used): Nichols, Cooper, Gower.

BOOKED: Cottrell.

GOAL: Cozier-Duberry (46).

REFEREE: Ritchie Watkins.