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Ashby-Hammond delighted with clinical under 23s

Taye Ashby-Hammond saluted a superb performance after Fulham’s under 23s stormed past Southampton at Motspur Park last night to cement their place at the top of the early league table.

Steve Wigley’s young Whites cruised to a comfortable 3-0 over the Saints thanks to Kieron Bowie’s strike just before half time and a quickfire second half trouble from Jay Stansfield. The Fulham goalkeeper told FFCTV that he felt the home side were good value for their victory:

“I thought from back to front, everyone was really good. Controlled the game from the very start, we kept the ball and took our chances – three great finishes I think – and just carrying on our strong performances so far this season.

Ashby-Hammond was pretty modest about his own display, but the goalkeeper pulled off a number of fine saves before the break to ensure that Fulham went in ahead at half time:

“It was okay. Pretty standard, I think. I think the second one just before half time was perhaps a bit more crucial. I just try to do my job to help the team out.

“We’re looking really strong. Even though we had five lads from the first team I think today, even without those guys we’ve so strong and I think all the lads are playing their best football at the moment and really consistent so I think we just have to have to stick to what we’re doing today and we should have no trouble this season.

The 22 year-old custodian believes his taste of first team football at Maidenhead last season has played a crucial part in his own development.

I think it absolutely has. It’s very challenging football there in that league. For a goalkeeper specifically, the challenges that you face there you don’t face so much in under 23s football so it’s really great to go through that. Once I find I another place to play elsewhere from the 23s I should feel right at home.

Ashby-Hammond admitted that seeing so many young players get their chance under Marco Silva has served to motivated the under 23 squad even further and also raised the prospect of impressing visiting scouts.

“Absolutely. You never know who’s watching. You just have to go out there every time you play, put in your best performance and hope the right person is watching at the right time.”

Stansfield double sinks Saints

A second half brace from Jay Stansfield helped Fulham’s under 23s cruise past Southampton at Motspur Park and maintain their unbeaten start to the season.

The eighteen year-old forward, deployed in a number ten role tonight, had a hand in all three of Fulham’s goals as Steve Wigley’s first shaded a tight first half and then put clear water between themselves and their visitors after the break. Stansfield, who scored a sensational first senior goal on his full debut for the Whites at Birmingham in the League Cup, supplied the opening goal for Kieron Bowie with a low cross and then scored twice in the space of three second half minutes to put the contest beyond Saints.

Stansfield produced a terrific finish to convert Marlon Fossey’s inviting cross six minutes after the interval and then repeated the trick shortly afterwards as the American full-back galloped forward once again to mark a poignant personal night on what would have been his late father Adam’s 43rd birthday. The teenager’s brilliant start to this campaign has showcased both his predatory instincts and maturity, but this was an excellent all-round performance, slotting seamlessly into an unfamiliar position, and playing several incisive passes.

Fulham were indebted to goalkeeper Taye Ashby-Hammond for keeping the scores level before half-time. The England youth international produced three excellent saves as Saints flexed their muscles. He kept out Kazeem Olagibe’s low free-kick that appeared to be heading for the bottom corner before denying Ramello Mitchell as the forward shot from an acute angle and fielded a long-range effort from Kegs Chauke. The hosts might have been in front well before Bowie’s tap in had Irish midfielder Ollie O’Neill added the finishing touch after rounding Jack Bycroft in the Southampton goal, but he somehow shot wide. Idris Odutayo headed narrowly wide from a corner and Bowie’s fierce drive from distance was too close to Bycroft.

Stansfield’s quickfire double effectively ended the game as a contest. Fulham played some silky football in the second period but couldn’t find a fourth to underline their superiority. Steven Sessegnon, featuring on the left side of the back four, came the closest but his curler from outside the box rattled the post with the keeper grasping at thin air. Odutayo was denied when Bycroft brilliantly stretched to keep out another header. This emphatic victory keeps the Whites on top of the early Premier League 2 Division table, with ten points from four games, a point ahead of Norwich City.

FULHAM UNDER 23s (4-2-3-1): T. Ashby-Hammond, Fossey (Larkeche 79), S. Sessegnon, Odutayo, McAvoy; Francois (Harris 45), Pajaziti; O’Neill, Hilton, Stansfield; Bowie. Subs (not used): McNally, McCoy-Splatt.

GOALS: Bowie (39), Stansfield (51, 54).

SOUTHAMPTON UNDER 23s (4-4-2): Bycroft; Otseh-Taiwo, Carson, Lancashire (Hewlett 23), Simeu; Chauke, Payne, Doyle (Ross-Lang.90+2), Olaigbe; Mitchell, Smith. Subs (not used): Ballard, Wright.

Fulham fancy Obafemi?

Fulham are the latest Championship club to show an interest in signing Southampton striker Michael Obafemi, according to reports this afternoon.

The Republic of Ireland international has been heavily linked with a permanent departure from St. Mary’s this summer after making just five appearances last season. The 21 year-old has scored five times in 38 games for the Saints and turned down a move to Blackburn Rovers last week. Former Fulham manager Scott Parker has reportedly made Obafemi a transfer target with Bournemouth currently short of firepower.

Football League World claims that Fulham have made enquiries about Obafemi’s availability to Southampton and Whites have sought striking reinforcements this summer, although how current their interest in the Dublin-born forward is remains to be seen given impending arrival of Brazilian forward Rodrigo Muniz from Flamengo. Obafemi is out of contract at the end of the current campaign and Saints boss Ralph Hassenhuttl used the youngster, who scored in a 1-0 League Cup success at Craven Cottage two years ago, extensively during pre-season.

Silva salutes Fulham’s progress

Marco Silva praised Fulham’s ‘mentality, desire and work rate’ after watching the Whites match Premier League Southampton in their latest pre-season friendly.

The Championship side claimed a creditable draw thanks to Neeskens Kebano’s late spot-kick after falling behind to Shane Long’s close-range finish shortly before half time. Silva has been pleased with the work of his squad during pre-season and, whilst pleased with the showing against top flight opposition, preferred to focus on the performance of his own players during a post-match interview with FFCTV:

“It was one more game for us. We are working in the same way that we did for the other matches. The boys have shown mentality, desire, work rate – everything was there – and we are starting to see some things that have been working on in the games. It is a matter of process. We have to keep improving, there are many things to improve. Our players are working really hard.

The most important thing for us is what we can do with our players – respecting our opponents, of course – but, to be honest, our focus is on our players, what we are able to do and the things we must improve. It is part of football to analyse the opponents, but we answered their questions this afternoon and for a big part of the match we were able to compete with them in the way I want to compete. In general, again we did well.”

Silva is content with Fulham’s progress two weeks after taking over from Scott Parker at Motspur Park – but is targeting further improvements ahead of the final pre-season fixture against Charlton Athletic next weekend.

“We finished the second week today. With some games, we are seeing more and more of the things we are preparing day by day. Of course, next Monday I want to see more and more. We will prepare well for the final pre-season match against Charlton. There are doing all the things that I am asking of them and they are doing well.”

The Portuguese head coach is already looking forward to the prospect of taking charge of his new side at Craven Cottage.

“It is the most important thing about football – when we talk about fans. The last few months was a tough time for everybody, when you feel that you can back to the stadium is good. It will be my first match at Craven Cottage, a special moment, and to be play with fans will be fantastic for us. Because football without them is nothing – we will be stronger with them behind us.”

He also praised the quality of Fulham’s first two signings – goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga and winger Harry Wilson – whilst stressing the need to bring in more players before the end of the transfer window.

“When we add some players, we do our homework to sign them. It is always in our mind to improve our squad. We have quality, some positions we have to improve. I like competition, I want us to be stronger so the players have to fight for each position. We are talking about two players – Gazzaniga and Harry – who have real quality, they want to come to Fulham Football Club and this is really important for me, they want to be here, they want to join this project and they are two very good first signings for us and we must work to sign more players until the end of the month.”

Kebano pleased with Fulham’s preparations

Neeskens Kebano feels Fulham’s draw at Southampton shows that the Whites are shaping up well under new manager Marco Silva.

The Congolese winger ensured Fulham emerged with a creditable draw against Premier League opposition by calmly converting a second half penalty. Kebano insisted he felt no pressure stepping up for the spot kick – having been a regular regular penalty taker earlier in his career – and was encouraged by his side’s showing.

He told the club’s official website after the final whistle:

“It was a very good game against a good team. I think we did quite well today. We drew – there were some positive things – and I enjoyed the game.
We are just trying to do our best against the all teams we are going to play against. We did well and we are carrying on in our preparations.”

Kebano admitted that the new regime had changed some elements of Fulham’s training and approach since Silva replaced Scott Parker but believes the squad is ‘in a good place’ ahead of the start of the Championship campaign.

We are all getting better, we’ve been building up our fitness well. We’ve been working hard under the sun and all them things, double sessions sometimes as well and we are in a good place now. It is a bit different. It is very good, I think everyone is happy with the way he works.

The popular winger is looking forward to finishing off Fulham’s pre-season programme against Charlton Athletic next weekend in front of the Craven Cottage faithful again.

“It has been ages since we have been able to play in front of them, so it will be a good moment to share again.”