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Fulham U23s held at Colchester

Fulham’s under 23s were held to a goalless draw by a spirited Colchester United side in their latest Premier League Cup group fixture this evening.

Steve Wigley’s side, disrupted by several international call-ups, made much of the early running but were denied the advantage their enterprising play merited by a string of superb saves from Colchester goalkeeper Ted Collins. The U’s custodian used his feet to deny Jean-Pierre Tiehi after a quarter of an hour and then got fingertips to a low Sonny Hilton strike as the visitors threatened just before the interval. The hosts’ clearest opening came courtesy of Chay Cooper who latched onto a clever ball from Bryan Ifeanyi but shot wide of goal.

Fulham began the second period on the front foot with a brilliant sliding challenge from full back Emmanuel Martins preventing Hilton from converting Tiehi’s cross. Collins saved with his legs again to deny Kieron Bowie when the former Raith Rovers forward appeared poised to put the Londoners in front from another Tiehi cut back before Dibley-Dias, so impressive on his first start for the under 23s at Burnley last week, crashed a venomous drive against the crossbar from 25 yards.

Hilton hit the post with a low drive from distance and Tiehi nearly scored with the follow up, but Colchester weren’t clinging on for dear life by any means. The introduction of substitute Tom Stagg seemed to enliven the hosts as he came close to converting a dangerous cross from Al-Amin Kazeem and then saw a deflected shot drop just wide of the past. Fabri was called into action with five minutes to play as Dave Huzzey’s men finished strongly – the Spaniard palmed away a long-range drive from Martins – and Marley Miranda drove fractionally over deep into stoppage time.

The stalemate means Fulham remain top of Group H on seven points from three games, with the U’s in second place on five points.

COLCHESTER UNITED UNDER 23s (4-5-1): Collins; Kazeem, Martins, Cracknell, Beadle; Cornish, Miranda, Ifeanyi (Trialist 63), Cooper, Thomas; McCoulsky (Stagg 63). Subs (not used): Terry, Lowe, Johnson.

BOOKED: Miranda.

FULHAM UNDER 23s (4-2-3-1): Fabri; Williams (Tanton 69), Larkeche, Odutayo, C. Robinson; Pajaziti, Lanquedoc; Hilton, Dibley-Dias, Bowie; Tiehi. Subs (not used): McNally, McCoy-Splatt, Wildbore, Sanderson.

Larkeche, Bowie, Odutayo, Hilton.

Fulham U18s edge out Leeds in five-goal thriller

Fulham under 18s kept their hopes of progressing through the group stages of the Premier League Cup by coming from behind to beat Leeds United in a five goal thriller at Motspur Park this afternoon.

The hosts recovered well from a disastrous start when Luca Thomas thumped a fine half volley past Alfie McNally to give Leeds the lead in the second minute after excellent approach play from Morten Spencer. McNally was nearly wrongfooted by a left wing cross from Joe Snowdon as the visitors threatened to double their advantage inside the opening ten minutes.

But Fulham found an equaliser with their first serious attack. Matt Dibley Dias found Jaylan Wildbore with a lovely through pass and the forward darted in from the right flank and curled a magnificent finish into the top corner. Wildbore almost turned matters completely around all by himself a couple of minutes later but the former Burton forward was denied by a smart reaction save from Harry Christy.

Imani Lanquedoc drilled an effort over the bar on the half hour mark before Max Dean replied in kind for Leeds – fizzing his drive a little too high. The dangerous Michael Olakigbe surged clear of the Leeds defence and then threaded a fine ball through to Lanquedoc, whose shot was straight at Christy. Dean nearly put the away side ahead just before the interval but McNally produced a sprawling save.

Fulham’s reprieve was only temporary as Dean seized on a poor pass in the home midfield and raced clear of the Whites defence before calmly lofting a clever finish over the onrushing McNally two minutes into added time. The visitors largely looked in control at the start of the second half with only Delano McCoy-Splatt testing Christy in the Leeds goal.

The visitors came close to making it three during a prolonged spell of pressure just after the hour mark. Dean probably should have done better than drag a shot wide after a brilliant run from Harvey Sutcliffe down the right and the Leeds centre forward was made to rue that miss when fifteen year-old Lemar Gordon rifled into the top corner just two minutes after stepping off the bench following adventurous running from Luc De Fougerolles, who had burst along the left wing.

Wildore saw a strike ruled out for offside, but Fulham put that disappointment behind them quickly and went in front with thirteen minutes to play. Ali Melloul’s youngsters put together an incisive counter attack with Ollie Sanderson slotting home after Leeds had been cut open through the centre of the pitch. The young Whites face Tottenham in their final group fixture on Saturday 27 November at Motspur Park.

FULHAM UNDER 18s (4-3-3): McNally; Tanton, Araujo, de Fougerolles, C. Robinson; Lanquedoc, Dibley-Dias (Works 57), McCoy-Splatt; Wildbore (Okkas 80), Olakigbe (Gordon 76), Sanderson. Subs (not used): Paternoster, Caton.

BOOKED: McCoy-Splatt.

GOALS: Wildbore (21), Gordon (74), Sanderson (77).

LEEDS UNITED U18s (4-3-3): Christy; Sutcliffe (Godden 82), Ferguson, Debayo, Chilokoa-Mullen; Allen, Spencer, Gray; Thomas (Coleman 21), Snowdon (Andreucci 66), Dean. Subs (not used): Grainger, Bradbury.

BOOKED: Gray, Allen.

GOALS: Thomas (2), Dean (45+2).

Fulham’s under 18s drawn against Stoke, Leeds and Tottenham in PL Cup

Fulham’s under 18s have been drawn against Stoke City, Leeds United and Tottenham Hotspur in the group phase of the Premier League Cup.

Steve Wigley’s side will start the competition with a trip to Stoke to play the Potters on Saturday 18 September, before two home games at Motspur Park against Leeds on Saturday 16 October and Spurs, who they have already beaten in the league season, on Saturday 27 November.