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#U18 #MatchReport #Fulham

Under-18s pick up important win at Fulham

Fulham 1-3 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League)

Sat 09 December 2023, 13:30|Tottenham Hotspur

Our Under-18s produced an excellent away performance to beat league rivals Fulham on Saturday.

We got off to the perfect start as our first attack resulted in an early corner which Callum Olusesi duly steered in from close range just two minutes in, before the attacking midfielder doubled our advantage with a neat touch and finish on 22 minutes.

In a first half where we'd asserted our control in possession to limit our opponents to very little, the Cottagers were gifted a way back into the contest with a soft penalty as Tom Olyott halved the deficit from the spot in the 37th minute. The home side were then reduced to 10 men as Oliver Gofford was shown a straight red for a late challenge on Archie Chaplin on the stroke of half time, with Kieran Morgan netting the only goal of a more even second half to maintain our strong position at the top of the division.

Buoyed by the impressive FA Youth Cup victory over Brentford in midweek, Stuart Lewis' young side started brightly in gloomy conditions in south-west London and took the lead in a matter of minutes through our first attack of the game. Miracle Adewole, stepping up superbly from the Under-16s, broke dangerously down the left and did well to find Morgan whose goal-bound shot was headed clear for a corner. The resulting set piece was flicked on and caused havoc in the Fulham six-yard box as Olusesi was there to pounce on the loose ball and produce a swivelling close-range finish.

The home side almost instantly restored parity as striker Callum Osmand headed over from eight yards - in what would be their only clear cut chance in open play in the half - but we started to dominate proceedings at Motspur Park and zipped the ball around in damp conditions for long spells to frustrate the home side. However, it was our good work out of possession that saw us extend our lead, pressing brilliantly to win the ball back in midfield and springing an attack forward to find Olusesi whose sublime first touch evaded the last defender before firing a shot into the far left corner in the 22nd minute.

We were looking comfortable on the ball holding our two-goal advantage until, out of nowhere, Fulham were awarded a penalty after Maeson King tripped Gofford inside the lefthand side of the area and Olyott stepped up left footed to convert from 12 yards past Carey Bloedorn - whose first action of the half was to pick the ball out of his own net. As the opening 45 moved into stoppage time, the influential Tyrese Hall came so close to our third as his 25-yard attempt cannoned off the inside of the upright, before Gofford was given his marching orders for a dangerous tackle on our captain.

With only one goal separating the sides at the break, the outnumbered hosts came out with more intensity and fight in the second half and it took an attack of real quality to restore our two-goal cushion on 53 minutes. Hall sparked the move, winning the ball back in midfield and driving forward with intent, before the ball worked its way out to Adewole down the left flank who got to the byline and cut it back for Morgan who placed a lovely, first-time finish low into the far corner.

To give the Cottagers credit, their 10 men worked tirelessly to keep us honest and our youngsters had to put in a shift to maintain the advantage. Led well by the dangerous Osmand, the pacy Fulham striker fashioned some good chances for his side and it was his shot that forced Bloedorn into his first save of the match in the 83rd minute but the goalkeeper saved smartly down to his right. In a flurry of late activity, with both sides looking for a goal, Fulham saw a low cross deflect off King and hit Bloedorn from point-blank range, before Hall had two opportunities to mark his excellent midfield performance with a goal but sent both attempts just over the crossbar.

'One of our best halves this season'

Under-18s Coach Stuart Lewis was full of praise for the first-half performance and picked out some standout individual displays from his young side: "I thought it was one of our best halves of football this season. We were outstanding, some brilliant passages of play and scored two really good goals. We spoke about having a fast start and we scored really early on so we certainly did that.

"It was disappointing to concede a goal because, on the balance of play, I didn't think it was a 2-1 game. Then you had the tackle from their player which was a red card, that probably showed their frustrations at how much we were dominating the game. It was a really positive result to back up the cup win on Tuesday, the all-round performance, energy levels and enthusiasm were really encouraging.

"It's sometimes tough against 10 men, but I thought when we got our third goal we could've gone on to get four or five. There were some outstanding individual performances - Miracle who's an Under-16 player was excellent, Tyrese centrally was brilliant and Cally got his two goals but it was a very good team performance.

"Ultimately, it's been a really good week for the group and we look forward to West Ham United in the league before Christmas."

Fulham 1-3 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League)

Spurs: Bloedorn, Black (Orr 71), Logan, Chaplin (c), King, Hall, Morgan, Olusesi, Ajayi, Lehane (Beggs 74), Adewole. Substitutes (not used): Warren, Adelusi, Egan-Riley.