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Fulham U23s held at Villa

Fulham’s under 23s were held at Aston Villa tonight – having to settle for a point against the league leaders despite taking an early lead through Conor McAvoy’s second minute spot kick.

Steve Wigley’s side gifted early pacesetters Villa a route back into the contest when Caleb Chukwuemeka capitalised on a mix-up between Taye Ashby-Hammond and the visiting defence to reach a through ball first and roll the equaliser home after rounding the Fulham goalkeeper. That meant that the sides went in level at the break despite the Londoners having the better of the first period.

Fulham made the perfect start when Terry Ablade was brought down by Paul Appiah and Lamare Bogarde in the box with just thirty seconds on the clock and McAvoy made no mistake from twelve yards, emphatically firing the penalty right down the middle of Viljami Sinisalo’s goal. The Whites had good chances to make it 2-0 after Ablade was denied a second spot-kick with Sonny Hilton striking the post after a well-worked move.

Villa had already threatened through Tristan Goodridge before Chukwumeka’s equaliser and both sides attacked with renewed purpose after the interval. Ollie O’Neill and Ablade both headed fractionally over before a brilliant piece of defending from McAvoy prevented Chukwuemeka from scoring his second of the evening when the Villa forward looked set to race through on Ashby-Hammond.

Hilton shot straight at Sinisalo after linking up impressively with Ablade, before McAvoy scrambled Chukwumeka’s header off the line as Villa put the Fulham goal under serious pressure. The young Whites did have chances to win it in the closing stages with Luke Harris firing wide after fine work from Ablade down the right flank and Hilton narrowly missing the target with an angled drive.

ASTON VILLA UNDER 23s (4-3-3): Sinisalo; Appiah (Zito 59), Swinkels, Feeney, Bogarde; Lindley, Thorndike, Iroegbuman; Goodridge, Reddin, Chukwumeka. Subs (not used): Sewell, Hart, Tommi O’Reilly, Marschall.

BOOKED: Iroegbuman.

GOAL: Chukwumeka (32).

FULHAM UNDER 23s (4-2-3-1): T. Ashby-Hammond; Fossey, Larkeche, Odutayo, McAvoy; Pajaziti (Bowie 67), S. Sessegnon; Hilton, O’Neill, Harris; Ablade. Subs (not used): Las, C. Robinson, Davis.

BOOKED: Odutayo, O’Neill.

GOAL: McAvoy (2).

McAvoy and Ashby-Hammond sign new deals

Connor McAvoy and Taye Ashby-Hammond have agreed new deals to stay with Fulham, the club have announced this afternoon.

Scottish centre back McAvoy has made real strides since impressing as a scholar at Motspur Park, making 24 appearances for Fulham’s under 23s last season having shown leadership potential as skipper of the club’s under-18 side. The 19 year-old was delighted to put pen to paper on a new two-year contract:

“It means everything to me to extend my time at Fulham. Having been here since I was eight, it’s the place I’ve learnt everything I know as a footballer. I enjoy playing for the club and it’s like a second home to me. I was taught and supported by the coaches here from a young age and I’ve grown up in an environment I felt comfortable in, which helped me enjoy football for the last 10 years.”

McAvoy is open to going out on loan to further his development when the new campaign gets underway. “I’m going to see how pre-season progresses for me and maybe look for a loan option to gain some experience in men’s football. I think I need a challenge to take me to the next level and a loan could represent that.”

Ashby-Hammond, part of a formidable group of young goalkeepers at Fulham, earned invaluable senior football experience last term – making 33 appearances in the National League for Maidenhead. He has agreed a new one-year contract with the Whites.

“I’m delighted to extend my contract! This will be my 15th season at the club and I’m really looking forward to the next challenge. I learnt a lot from my loan in the National League, a difficult, physical division. There were lots of crosses and through balls to deal with, but I enjoyed it a lot.”

Academy director Huw Jennings added: “Connor was the defensive leader for the Under-23s last season as a right-sided centre-back who could also play at right-back. He has featured with Scotland’s youth teams, captaining the Under-19s. He’ll be looking to push on with his journey at the club towards senior football during the course of this contract. Taye will be aiming to get more experience in goal having excelled with Maidenhead in the last two Covid interrupted seasons.”

Fulham hold a one-year extension option on both McAvoy’s and Ashby-Hammond’s new contracts.