FA Youth Cup 5th Round
Fulham Academy 3 - Ipswich Town Academy 2 (aet)
Fulham's Youth Academy came under the spotlight at The Kingfield Stadium Woking this evening as they took on the might of Ipswich Town in the 5th Round of the FA Youth Cup.
This was a mouth-watering prospect, an encounter between two of the countries leading youth academy systems, and it didn't disappoint. Indeed, supporters leaving Kingfield described it as "the best match" they'd seen all season, at any level...
A crowd of around 500 turned up to support the Whites and the sprinkling of Blues fans helped add to an already impressive atmosphere.
Stuart Noble opened the scoring for the Whites on 8 minutes. A cross from Prately after some good Fulham interplay on the right allowed the striker to fire home from ten yards.
Ipswich leveled on 55 minutes before taking the lead on 70.
England Youth International Sean Doherty, who joined Fulham from Everton last season, struck with a last gasp leveler on 91 minutes, just as the Whites looked to be heading out of the competition.
A header from substitute Buari fell to Doherty who made no mistake to take the tie into extra-time.
The impressive David Shevel won the game for Fulham just 8 minutes later. Loui Fazakerley was fouled inside the area and Shevel fired Fulham in front from the spot.
From then on it was a matter of playing out the game with Fulham under a little pressure toward the end of the match with legs tiring on both sides.
The final whistle went much to the delight of the crowd who knew they'd wittenessed Fulham's stars of the future in action.
After the match Assistant Youth Academy Director Paul Nevin said:
"We're delighted with the win despite not playing to our full potential. We're all about development - but tonight it was about a result.
"We're obviously pleased to come back from being 2-1 down. The lads are absolutely shattered and they've given everything they had to give tonight.
"We'll look forward to meeting either Aston Villa or Brighton on the quarter final. We want to make history for Fulham's Youth Team and deliver the Cup for the Chairman."
Academy Director Steve Kean admitted earlier today that the progress of his young players is being deliberately kept under wraps.
Tonight however, Fulham's young heros can have their moment in the sun - and how they deserve it...
Fulham team: Ross Flitney, Eddie McClements, Adam Green, Zesh Rehman, Dean Leacock, David Shevel, Darren Pratley, Michael Timlin, Stuart Noble, Loui Fazakerley, Sean Doherty
Substitutes: Tom Davis, William McFrederick, Chris Lock, Malik Buari, Liam Fontaine.
Subs used: Buari for Pratley, Lock for Buari, Davis for Leacock.