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Fulham and Chelsea share spoils after eight-goal thriller

Fulham and Chelsea had to be content with a share of the spoils after a see-saw under-18 west London derby finished 4-4 at Motspur Park this afternoon. Luke Harris’ second half brace looked to have pinched the points for Ali Melloul’s youngsters but the home side were denied by the second of a pair of strikes from Jude Soonsup-Bell with six minutes left. The Blues also missed a second half penalty in a crazy game that cantered from end to end.

A scrappy start gave way to disaster six minutes in when Harvey Araujo slipped on the edge of his own penalty area, allowing Edwin Andersson to nip in and slip a simple finish under the stranded Alex Borto. The hosts almost offered an immediate reply with Prince Adegoke pushing Imani Lanquedoc’s rising drive over the bar after Araujo had conjured up a brilliant pass to find the midfielder. The young Whites drew level on eleven minutes when some patient build-up play culminated in Araujo delivering a lovely low cross for Jaylan Wildbore to find the corner.

That sparked a prolonged spell of Fulham pressure. Araujo almost made further amends with a header from Matt Dibley-Dias’ corner before Wildbore whacked a drive straight at Adegoke in the Chelsea goal. Dibley-Dias then drifted a delicious curler agonisingly wide, but Araujo grabbed the second goal with a fine header after the visitors had struggled to clear Delano McCoy-Splatt’s corner.

Chelsea came roaring back. Borto just about kept out Louis Flowers’ measured finish and then produced an even better save when Flowers turned provider, somehow denying Andersson with the goal gaping at close range. But the Blues were level two minutes later when Soonsup-Bell glanced a great header home from Lewis Hall’s devilish delivery. Ed Brand’s side stormed into the lead within three minutes when Soonsup-Bell surged down the right flank and sent in a cross-cum-shot that Borto batted away, but Andersson was on hand to power home from close range.

Fulham appeared shellshocked by the sudden turnaround but went on the front foot after composing themselves during the half-time break. Olly Sanderson might have brought them level in the early stages of the second period but the striker blazed over at the back post after a patient move unlocked the Chelsea defence. The lively Luke Harris went close with a low drive from distance and it was the prodigiously-talented Welsh teenager who levelled matters with a moment of magic ten minutes into the second half.

Harris, who has featured for Steve Wigley’s under 23 side already this season, gave another reminder of his unerring eye for goal when he curled a majestic right-footed finish into the far corner from 20 yards as Chelsea foolishly stood off him. The gripping contest appeared to have tilted towards the visitors again midway through the second period when Soonsup-Bell was brought down by Araujo in the area. The striker and Lewis Hall squabbled over who should take the spot-kick with the latter prevailing, only for Borto to pull off a brilliant diving save.

Substitute Michael Olakigbe then won Fulham a penalty at the other end and Harris blasted it straight down the centre of the goal to put the hosts ahead. But the young Whites couldn’t hold on to claim all three points as Luke Badley-Morgan’s cross was superbly controlled by Soonsup-Bell who turned to thump a terrific finish in off the crossbar. The only surprise was that the frantic finale didn’t produce a winner – but perhaps it was fitting that this pulsating contest ended all square.

FULHAM UNDER 18s (4-4-2): Borto; Tanton, de Fougerolles, C. Robinson, Araujo; McCoy-Splatt, Dibley-Dias (Okkas 90), Lanquedoc, Harris; Sanderson, Wildbore (Olakigbe 65). Subs (not used): McNally, Works, Caton.

BOOKED: Tanton, de Fougerolles.

GOALS: Wildbore (11), Araujo (23), Harris (55, pen 76).

CHELSEA UNDER 18s (4-1-3-2): Adegoke; Olise (Abu 88), Tobin, Hughes, Silcott-Duberry (Badley-Morgan 71); Hall; Webster, Andersson, Thomas (Mendel-Idowu 78); Flower, Soonsup-Bell. Subs (not used): Merrick, Tiemcani.

BOOKED: Webster.

GOALS: Andersson (6, 33), Soonsup-Bell (30, 85).

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).