It was the same scoreline when the two sides met in the league a fortnight ago but the difference was, we never really hit our usual standards in this Under-18 Premier League Cup tie as the Cottagers largely prevented us from playing out from the back.
Sunny Hilton gave Fulham a fourth-minute lead at the Training Centre and although we had a spell in the ascendency in the second half, which included an equaliser from Rayan Clarke just a minute after coming on as a substitute, the visitors regained the lead from the penalty spot when Brooklyn Lyons-Foster – the only member of our side who started the UEFA Youth League victory over Real Madrid Under-19s in midweek – was penalised for a challenge in the box and Nicolas Santos Clase fired home.
From there we failed to really threaten, leaving us with one win and one defeat from our first two games in the group stage of the competition.
Fulham took the lead after only four minutes when goalkeeper Jonathan De Bie raced out to the edge of his area to meet Timmy Abraham – brother of Swansea City’s on-loan forward Tammy – in a 50-50 challenge and the ball squirmed loose for Sonny Hilton to fire into the empty net.
Reo Griffiths was an outlet with his powerful running down the left and although he tried a shot shortly after the goal, we struggled to play our way into the final third with bodies always in our path. Fulham weren’t afraid to press either and forced us into a couple of errors at the back, but Abraham twice fired off-target and then Tariq Hinds was there with a fantastic covering challenge to deny Hilton on the break.
Above: Jamie Reynolds on the ball.
We started the second half quickly with Jamie Reynolds’ shot being deflected inches wide while Griffiths tested goalkeeper Luca Ashby-Hammond before a big chance came and went on 55 minutes. It came from Griffiths bursting down the left, the ball was worked to Phoenix Patterson on the right side of the box but his shot was blocked on the line by defender Djed Spence.
Coach Scott Parker made an attacking change, bringing on Clarke after a spell on the sidelines and just a minute after his introduction, the substitute had brought us back level. Reynolds delivered a fantastic cross from the left flank which Clarke met with a diving header to send the ball flying into the net with 57 minutes played.
The equaliser lifted us momentarily but after De Bie saved well from Chris Kelly, Lyons-Foster lunged in on Showkat Tahir and the referee pointed to the spot, booking the defender as well. Up stepped Santos Clase to restore the Cottagers’ advantage on 64 minutes.
Tahir fashioned two more chances for Fulham down the left, but was denied by De Bie on the first one before shooting wide with the second, but the closest we came to a second equaliser was when RJ Richards’ strike was blocked in the box by Spence.
COACH SCOTT PARKER SAID
“It was a carbon copy of the game two weeks ago in the sense that it was an early mistake on our behalf for them to score, we got ourselves back into it and then conceded a penalty again. In the first half we didn’t turn up really and that’s what disappointed me more than most. You can accept mistakes, bad play at times but you can’t accept being lacklustre like that. In the second half we decided to go a little bit more direct to try to mix it up, we got ourselves back in the game but the penalty came at a bad time and in the end it was a disappointing day all round. We had momentum at that point as well (when the penalty was conceded) so it’s back to the drawing board on Monday.”
Spurs U18s: De Bie (c), Tainio (Mukendi 72), Hinds, Bowden (Clarke 56), Okedina, Lyons-Foster, Patterson (Pochettino 77), P Maghoma, Richards, Reynolds, Griffiths. Substitutes (not used): Freeman, Statham.
Our final group stage match in this competition is at home to Aston Villa on Saturday 2 December, but after the international break attentions turn back to the Under-18 Premier League and a trip to Swansea City on Saturday 18 November. Kick-off is at 11am.