The attacking midfielder dispatched his spot-kick with aplomb after substitute Aramide Oteh was hauled down in the box 13 minutes from time, marking the third Under-18 Premier League game in a row that he’s hit the target.
Goalkeeper Jonathan De Bie pulled off three important saves in the first period but we dominated the play in the second half and could have won by more, Keanan Bennetts seeing a series of shots blocked as we tried to find an opening in the Cottagers’ packed defence.
We’ve now taken 10 points from a possible 12 in our last four domestic games at this level.
The opening half-hour at the Cottagers’ training ground was played at a frenetic pace and there were chances aplenty at both ends. Kazaiah Sterling glanced a header wide on six minutes before latching onto a loose back-pass and setting up Jack Roles in the box, only for the midfielder to be denied by Fulham goalkeeper Taye Ashby-Hammond.
De Bie, back this week from international duty with Belgium Under-17s, then made two stops inside 60 seconds, first producing a good block at his near post to deny Cameron Thompson on 13 minutes and then reaching high in the air to gather Nicolas Santos-Clase’s attempt – the forward having tried to guide the ball over him after finding a pocket of space on the edge of the box.
Jose Garrido’s header from Marlon Fossey’s free-kick flew inches wide moments later while we had two good opportunities at the other end, Roles pulling the ball back for Shashoua who blasted over from 20 yards before Sterling’s effort was saved and George Marsh whistled one past the post on the follow-up.
De Bie kept Fulham out once more on 26 minutes when he leapt to his left to tip Jon Dagur Thorsteinsson’s top corner-bound free-kick behind, but from then on the flow of chances slowed down and we began to exert our dominance on the ball in midfield.
Marsh was breaking up the play every time Fulham tried to get on the front foot and Dylan Duncan was impressive with his tireless running all over the pitch while Oteh (pictured, above), on at half-time, almost made an immediate impact in front of goal when he wriggled away from Garrido but his shot was saved. Bennetts’ audacious 30-yard free-kick then sailed just the wrong side of the upright as we continued to boss the second period.
Fulham’s Chris Kelly did manage to work an opening at the edge of the box on 69 minutes but fired off target while Shashoua’s low shot from inside the hosts’ area was saved as we repeatedly tried to pick our way through a congested home defence.
The breakthrough finally arrived on 77 minutes when Oteh was fouled by Garrido as he tried to turn in the area and Shashoua lashed the resulting penalty into the top corner. We had to stay resilient to defend a series of Fulham set-pieces in the moments that followed, but we looked dangerous on the counter and Ashby-Hammond had to make a good take to keep out Duncan’s looping shot in stoppage time as we pressed for a second goal.
JOHN MCDERMOTT, HEAD OF PLAYER DEVELOPMENT, SAID
“Fulham made things difficult for us, they defended really well and we were a threat going forward so it was a really good test. I was delighted for those boys who played against Bayer Leverkusen less than 72 hours ago – Dylan Duncan’s work rate was outstanding, Japhet Tanganga grew into the game and Samuel Shashoua and Keanan Bennetts both showed an excellent mentality so I was pleased with them. Jonathan De Bie came in as goalkeeper again and got another clean sheet but overall there’s a very good spirit at the moment based on hard work and a high level of competition for places. It was a difficult September to get to this place but hopefully now we can build. It’s the levels of honesty and quality that we want and if we do that, the results and performances will look after themselves. I want the players to be dedicated to their work and at the moment we’re in a good place.
“At times we encourage the boys to go for it, maybe we were just a tad too gung-ho today but I’d rather it was frenetic and manic than sterile. That’s part of what we’re trying to encourage but that means our defenders have got to defend and our attackers have got to attack. Jon Dinzeyi, Japhet and the goalkeeper had to work hard to keep a clean sheet today but eventually we ground them down and at the end of the day if our finishing was more clinical – which I think it will be in future – the result could and should have been more comprehensive.”
Spurs U18s: De Bie, Hinds (Eyoma 80), Tsaroulla, Marsh (c), Tanganga, Dinzeyi, Shashoua, Duncan, Sterling (Oteh 46), Roles (Patterson 60), Bennetts. Substitute (not used): Austin (GK).
After 11 games, we’re now half-way through our Under-18 Premier League southern division campaign. That means we face our first ‘return’ match of this season’s calendar when Reading come to the Training Centre next Saturday (November 12). We produced an impressive display away to the Royals in September but still suffered a 4-3 defeat, so the players are sure to want to prove a point this time around.