After spurning a hatful of chances in the opening half-an-hour, we took a two-goal lead in at the break thanks to strikes from Jack Roles and Samuel Shashoua.
Ashby-Hammond saved well twice at the start of the second period but, after Mikolaj Kwietniewski pulled one back for the visitors from the penalty spot, we went up through the gears once more with Shashoua, Keanan Bennetts and Kazaiah Sterling on target.
Jayden Harris reduced the arrears for Fulham amid a slightly loose spell at the end of the game, but we’d already done more than enough, running out 5-2 winners to maintain our unbeaten streak in the merit group phase of the Under-18 Premier League.
Following a minute’s silence in memory of Under-23s Coach Ugo Ehiogu, who sadly passed away last week, we soon got into our stride and might have taken the lead on 13 minutes but Sterling’s shot was saved by Ashby-Hammond, Roles hit the post on the rebound and Bennetts blasted the loose ball over the top of the gaping net, although the flag went up for off-side anyway.
A minute later, Sterling’s close-range effort from Jaden Brown’s cut-back went over, with the striker denied by the keeper again before he and Roles saw efforts go over the top once more.
In an incredible spell of chances, another Sterling shot was pushed behind by Ashby-Hammond, with Oliver Skipp heading wide from the resulting corner.
Above: Jaden Brown up against Isaac Pearce.
The Cottagers had a little spell of possession but we were determined and crisp in our play and we finally found the breakthrough on 35 minutes when Sterling cut back for Roles to bury it from six yards.
Nine minutes later it was 2-0 as Bennetts roamed through the middle and picked out Shashoua in the box, who cut back onto his left foot and drove across the keeper, into the top corner.
Ashby-Hammond somehow denied Shashoua with a big hand from point-blank range just after the break, before keeping out Roles’ deft flick from the resulting corner.
Fulham’s Nwietniewski took his chance to pull one back from the spot on 52 minutes after Reece York had been accidentally clattered into by Skipp, but we restored our two-goal cushion within two minutes as Shashoua embarked on a dazzling run down the right side and exchanged passes with Roles in the box before clipping beyond the keeper from close range.
Our lads were purring and on 57 minutes we had goal number four when Skipp picked a high ball out of the sky and played a sumptuous through pass for Bennetts to convert from the left angle.
Dylan Duncan’s effort was blocked on the line by a defender as we kept pushing forward, with the fifth goal arriving 10 minutes from the end when substitute Matt Lock controlled the ball into the path of Bennetts, who came in from the right and fed Sterling, the striker needing no second invitation to finally sweep beyond his nemesis for the day, Ashby-Hammond.
Harris thumped home for Fulham with six minutes remaining, while substitute Michael Elstone was denied by a combination of goalkeeper Alfie Whiteman and left-back Brown in the closing stages, but the victory was comfortably in the bag.
JOHN MCDERMOTT, HEAD OF PLAYER DEVELOPMENT, SAID
“It’s been quite some time since a lot of the boys played and what’s been interesting this week is that we’ve had to keep the reins on them – there’s been so much energy, we anticipated the boys would play well today and I thought we did. Their goalkeeper had an outstanding game. We had so many chances and he made some really good saves.
“We kept rolling on and rolling forward. Alfie Whiteman had a little bit to do in the first half but not an awful lot. Fulham were talking about trying to play in our half but the centre-backs wouldn’t allow them to. Every time, George Marsh and Japhet Tanganga would just repel it straight back, so it wasn’t just about minimising the amount of shots that Fulham had in the first half, it was minimising the amount of entries they had into our half. We always speak about that, trying to dominate a team and it’s pleasing that we did today. We played some really good football, we were high-energy and I thought we looked like we had some really good players. Fulham are a good team, they’re well coached and you saw in the first 10 minutes that they can play at a high tempo and play aggressively, but the quality of our boys today was at a very high level. I didn’t think Fulham were poor today, I thought we were very good and it was a good end to a very difficult week.”
Spurs U18s: Whiteman, Hinds (Lock 76), Brown, Skipp (Omolabi 70), Marsh (c), Tanganga, Shashoua, Duncan, Sterling, Roles (Patterson 58), Bennetts. Substitute (not used): Freeman (GK).
We travel to Aston Villa next Saturday (May 6) for our fifth of seven merit group matches. Kick-off at Bodymoor Heath with be at 12noon.