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Olakigbe extends Fulham U18s’ winning run

Michael Olakigbe

Michael Olakigbe’s winner secured a superb win for Fulham’s under 18s at Aston Villa this afternoon and extended the young Whites’ winning run to five consecutive matches.

The pacey winger fired into the far corner emphatically with nine minutes remaining in the first half at Bodymoor Heath after beating his man having collected a clever pass from Terrell Works. Ali Melloul’s men could easily have constructed a far more comfortable advantage by the end of a game they went on to dominate but the Londoners failed to take a number of presentable opportunities.

With several of his regular starters involved for the under 23s at Middlesbrough last night, Melloul gave promising under-16 players Lemar Gordon and Luc De Fougerolles a start whilst Bradley de Jesus, Ollie Gofford, Jonathan Esenga and Montague Conway were handed spots on the bench. It took a while for a youthful side to settle but they gradually established a firm grip on proceedings with Stefan Parkes a particular threat with a number of marauding runs along the left flank.

Fulham took the lead with a wonderfully worked move that saw Works locate the lively Olakigbe with a precise pass. The England youth international produced a brilliant bit of skill to outwit a defender and drove decisively into the far corner. The young Whites might have doubled their lead when centre half Xavier Benjamin’s goalbound volley from a corner was blocked by a Villa defender.

The home side weren’t out of proceedings, however, with Michael Allen pulling off an excellent reaction save to keep out Kobei Moore after space opened up for the Villa substitute. de Jesus, capped by England at under-16 level, tested James Wright twice in quick succession after showing off some sublime footwork and, although the young Whites were unable to extend their advantage, they held on to record another impressive victory.

ASTON VILLA UNDER 18s (4-4-2): Wright; Ealing, Rhoades, Duerden, Alcock; O’Reilly (Tristan Rowe 72), McBride, Young, Sewell; Shakpoke (Kellyman 31), Teddy Rowe (Moore 62). Sub (not used): Lewis.

BOOKED: McBride, Ealing.

FULHAM UNDER 18s (4-2-3-1): Allen; de Fougerolles, Parkes, Araujo, Benjamin; Okkas, McCoy-Splatt; Olakigbe, Gordon (Gofford 66), Works (Parker 78); Loupalo-Bi (de Jesus 68). Subs (not used): Conway, Essenga.

BOOKED: Parker, Olakigbe.

GOAL: Olakigbe (36).

REFEREE: Gareth Davis.

Fulham U18s put five past Reading

Fulham’s under 18s made it three wins in a week as they thrashed Reading 5-0 at Motspur Park this morning.

Ali Melloul’s side had ended the contest by half time through strikes from Devan Tanton, Terrell Works, Michael Olakigbe and Matt Dibley-Dias. Delano McCoy-Splatt completed the rout in the second period.

The hosts, fielding Works as a false nine, dominated the early running but were perhaps a touch fortunate to take the lead in the tenth minute when a cross from American right back Tanton went all the way in with the slightest of touches off an unlucky Royals defender. Works made it two shortly afterwards with a splendid left-footed striker into the bottom corner after he had beaten two opponents with a brilliant first touch.

Fulham suddenly looked like they could score from every attack. Olakigbe almost made it three with a powerful strike after being picked out by George Okkas, with Xavier Benjamin nodding narrowly wide at the ensuing corner. Another goal wasn’t long in coming with Olakigbe heading in an excellent cross from Harvey Araujo at the second attempt.

Dibley-Dias, who returned from injury with a brief substitutes’ appearance for the under 23s against Norwich City last night, marked his first start in months for the under 18s with the fourth. It was a gift after Reading goalkeeper Thomas Norcott dropped a routine catch straight at the midfielder’s feet – and Fulham were well worth their four-goal cushion at the break.

Perhaps inevitably, the second period was far less open. Reading restricted Fulham to far fewer clear-cut chances and had some openings of their own. Benjamin bravely blocked a shot from Ajani Giscombe before McCoy-Splatt steered an effort agonisingly wide after Works had cut out a loose Reading ball from the back. McCoy-Splatt did get his name on the scoresheet shortly afterwards with a sharp left-footed finish – and the resounding victory means the under 18s will travel to Leicester for Wednesday’s Premier League Cup semi final in great spirits.

FULHAM UNDER 18s (4-3-3):
Allen; Tanton, Araujo, Benjamin, C. Robinson; Okkas, McCoy-Splatt, Dibley-Dias; Olakigbe, Gordon, Works. Subs (not used): Borto, De Fougerolles, Lanquedoc, Parker, Loupalo-Bi.

Okkas aims for another win

George Okkas is targeting a third win in a week as Fulham’s under 18s look to continue their fine recent run of form when they face Reading at Motspur Park this morning.

Ali Melloul’s men showed serious character to win 3-2 at Brighton and Hove Albion in midweek despite playing for more than an hour with ten men. That was a second successive victory on the road after the young Whites ground out a win at Tottenham Hotspur last Saturday.

The Cypriot midfielder told Fulham’s official website:

“The win on Tuesday was massive and the way we won it made the points feel even better. We showed great character and our hard work was rewarded. Three wins in a week would do lots for our confidence and our momentum heading into that vital Premier League Cup Semi-Final against Leicester. We’re also looking to improve our position in the league table.”

Olakigbe and Lanquedoc stun Chelsea

Fulham’s under 18s ended a run of four games without a win as they outplayed league leaders Chelsea to win the west London derby 2-0 at Cobham this afternoon. An early strike from winger Michael Olakigbe was followed by brilliant counter-attacking goal from Imani Lanquedoc as the young Whites produced the perfect away display to claim all three points.

Ali Melloul drafted in under-23 regulars Charlie Robinson and Luke Harris to his starting line-up and the visitors made the perfect start after just two minutes. The lively Olakigbe cut in from the right wing and his 25-yard strike took a wicked deflection leaving Chelsea goalkeeper Tud Curd completely helpless.

Fulham pressed relentlessly from the outset, unsettling Chelsea’s passing rhythm and leaving the Blues often unable to get out of their own half. Lanquedoc spurned a great opportunity to double the lead midway through the first half when he blazed over from about six yards after a flowing move from the back chiselled out an opening. But the midfielder made no mistake when found by a low Harris cross from the right, firing high into the net to put clear water between the sides just after the half hour mark.

The young Whites might have made it three before half time when Olly Sanderson, who led the line superbly, headed narrowly wide from a teasing Olakigbe cross. Chelsea changed shape at half-time, sending on midfielder Billy Gee, and enjoyed their best spell of the match at the start of the second half. Leo Castledine glanced a header wide from Brodi Hughes’ cross and Edwin Andersson rifled an effort past the post as the home side pushed for a route back into the contest.

Fulham remained a threat on the break and Lanquedoc was unlucky not to settle matters when his drive was bravely blocked by the covering Hughes. The hosts almost found a lifeline through Silko Thomas, who ventured infield from the right flank, and fired fractionally wide of Michael Allen’s far post with real venom. The visitors still looked likely to add to their advantage with Sanderson latching onto a lovely through ball from Robinson but the young striker shot straight at Curd.

CHELSEA UNDER 18s (4-3-3): Curd; Hughes, Abu (Gee 45), Tobin, Terry; Castledine, Rak-Sakyi, Mendel-Idowu (Silcott-Duberry 66); Thomas, Andersson, Stutter (Flower 78). Subs (not used): Adegoke, Olise.

FULHAM (4-2-3-1): Allen; Tanton, Parkes, C. Robinson, Araujo; McCoy-Splatt, Harris; Olakigbe, Okkas (Benjamin 81), Lanquedoc (Gordon 75); Sanderson. Subs (not used): McNally, Parker, Works.

BOOKED: Parkes.

GOALS: Olakigbe (2), Lanquedoc (31).

U18s lose to Leicester at the death

Fulham’s under 18s fell to their second defeat of the season after conceding a late winner away at Leicester this afternoon. Jack Butterfil drove home the decisive goal from Kian Pennant’s cross with three minutes to play as the young Foxes climbed to the top of the southern division table.

It was a disappointing reverse for Ali Melloul’s young side, who slipped to fifth having struggled to carve out clear cut chances in the course of a frustrating afternoon. The hosts were on the front foot from the outset with the recalled Alfie McNally saving from Pennant after three minutes and skipper Joe Wormleighton lashing over as Leicester laid early siege to the Fulham goal. Harvey Araujo blocked an effort from the lively Pennant and, although Michael Olakigbe looked lively out wide, the visitors’ only serious opening arrived on the stroke of half time when Olakigbe was denied by Arlo Doherty.

Fulham began more purposefully in the second period. Olly Sanderson almost produced another superb strike from distance but Doherty pulled off an outstanding save at full stretch as the striker’s effort appeared destined for the top corner. The hosts responded with a fine run and cross from Henry Cartwright that saw a succession of shots blocked by the away defence. Olakigbe spurned a glorious opportunity when he shot straight at the keeper after excellent approach play from Imani Lanquedoc.

Pennant skied over after terrific play from Woremleighton before Fulham went close at the other end when both Jaylan Wildbore and Matt Dibley-Dias narrowly missed the target. An open finale produced a winner for the Foxes when substitute Butterfil gleefully thumped home a precise Pennant cross – and the hosts survived a desperate Fulham onslaught to claim all three points.

LEICESTER CITY UNDER 18s (3-5-2): Doherty; Wilson-Brown, Grist, Godsmark-Ford; Wormleighton, Lindsay, Cover (Butterfil 70), Dawkins, Cartwright; Popov, Pennant. Subs (not used): Chibueze, Lewis, Read, Kutshienza.

GOAL: Butterfil (87).

FULHAM UNDER 18s (4-3-3): McNally; Tanton, de Fougerolles, C. Robinson, Araujo; McCoy-Splatt, Dibley-Dias, Harris; Lanquedoc (Wildbore 71), Olakigbe, Sanderson. Subs (not used): Works, Okkas, Caton, Parker.

BOOKED: Tanton, Harris.