Hard to take

Tuesday 12 March 2002

Fulham 0-3 Aston Villa - FA Youth Cup Quarter Final

Report Dom Guerra / Images Javier Garcia

A brief pre-match shower helped to give the pitch at Craven Cottage a slick surface as both sides started the match looking to play a quick passing game.

The early exchanges were mainly contained to the midfield areas as both sides looked to get accustomed to the fast conditions.

Villa had the first opportunity to get on the score sheet and it proved to be a foreboding moment for the Whites. Having lost possession wide on the right, Fulham found themselves having to defend against an advancing winger and an accompanying forward.

Luckily for Ross Flitney in Fulham's goal, the cross was met with only the slightest of touches, which saw the ball run harmlessly away.



That appeared to be the wake up call that Fulham needed as they started to take full advantage of the optimal passing conditions. But despite looking more likely to score in the early stages, Fulham could not afford to play with any complacency as Villa were looking dangerous on the break.

On the 18-minute mark Villa had their second clear-cut opportunity. Having played a corner in to the near post, the flick-on found an unmarked Vila player who couldn't adjust himself in time to direct his header towards goal.

Fulham soon suffered an injury blow as Loui Fazakerley had to be replaced after he failed to recover from a clattering challenge only a few minutes earlier.

Whilst not finding themselves under heavy amounts of pressure, Fulham had to be weary as Villa were looking dangerous, especially with their one touch passing moves.



On 31 minutes Michael Timlin missed a great chance to give Fulham the lead. Having run onto a free ball on the right side of the penalty area, Timlin hurried his shot when he probably could have taken an extra touch.

The action swiftly moved to the other end of the pitch as Villa threatened from another corner. Throughout the first half, Villa's height was proving a constant threat from set-pieces. Luckily on this occasion a world-class save from Flitney kept the score level as he flung himself to his right and tipped the ball round the post.

Villa took the lead on 41 minutes, again it was a set-piece that had Fulham in trouble. Looking to use their height advantage, Villa played a long free-kick into Fulham's penalty area. Villa forward Luke Moore leapt above his marker to loop a header over Flitney. 1-0 to the visitors.

Villa doubled their lead shortly after through Moore again. On this occasion he latched on a diagonal ball played inside Fulham's fullback and placed a delightful finish past the advancing Flitney.

Fulham went into the half time break knowing that they'd need to show more fighting spirit in order to get back into this match.

The second half started with an ostentatious Villa attack directly from the kick off as the visitors looked to keep their first half momentum going.

Only a few minutes later Villa put the tie beyond the Whites as Stefan Moore headed home a cross from Fulham's left.

The Whites appeared to be stemming the flow of Villa attacks shortly after, but they had yet to force Villa 'keeper Henderson into making a save. Possession-wise Fulham were now having the upper hand but with Villa already three goals to the good, the visitors were now looking to hold on to their lead and keep things tight at the back.

Taking this into account Fulham were still finding it hard to progress past Villa's midfield to mount any significant attacks and even by the 80th minute, the Whites had hardly tested Henderson.

Fulham's night of frustration was complete when England winger Sean Doherty was sent off in a bizarre sequence of events after kicking the ball away. Fulham could feel aggrieved at not having been given the advantage as referee Kettle pulled play back after a Villa foul. But in his frustration, Doherty kicked the ball away, only to see it hit the referee. A red card was inevitable. The final whistle blew shortly after.

Fulham:

Ross Flitney, Eddie McClements, Adam Green, Zesh Rehman, Dean Leacock, David Shevel, Darren Pratley, Michael Timlin, Stuart Noble, Loui Fazakerley, Sean Doherty (sent off 84).

Subs Used:

Chris Lock on for Loui Fazakerley (20)
Tom Davis on for Darren Pratley (73)