Fulham Under-21s lost to a strong Liverpool outfit at a chilly Motspur Park on Monday afternoon.
After Cauley Woodrow had cancelled out Adam Morgan's early opener, the game could have gone either way but it was the visitors who took the spoils when Krisztian Adorjan fired home after Neil Etheridge had spilled Danny Pacheco's effort.
Liverpool took the lead with the first chance of the game with less than four minutes on the clock. A diagonal ball found Morgan in space down the right and the winger cut inside Matthew Briggs before firing beyond Etheridge to give the boys from Merseyside an early advantage.
Fulham responded three minutes later when Pajtim Kasami saw his drive comfortably gathered by Peter Gulacsi after playing a neat one-two with Captain Lasse Vigen Christensen.
Chances were rare and it took a moment of brilliant skill to see one of the goalkeepers tested again when Briggs powered past five red shirts before seeing his right-footed strike smothered by Gulacsi on 19 minutes.
In what was turning out to be a largely uneventful game, we had to wait until the 33rd minute for the next shot, but Morgan’s sliced effort ended up nearer the corner flag than the goal, before Charles Banya saw his shot deflect wide at the other end.
The home side drew level with five minutes left of the half through an outrageous Woodrow strike. Alex Brister showed good footwork down the right flank before sending Woodrow in down the channel and, with the angle massively against him, the striker managed to lob Gulacsi at his far post. Cynics may say it was a wayward cross by the man who celebrated his 18th birthday on Sunday, but you can bet Woodrow will be saying he meant it.
And he could have doubled his tally for the afternoon on the stroke of half-time after being found in space by Kasami, only to see Gulacsi beat his fierce shot away.
Fulham started the second period strongly and Mickael Tavares connected with a loose ball in the area within three minutes of the restart but his powerful effort was too close to Liverpool's Hungarian goalkeeper.
The away side responded through a Conor Coady effort but, as was the pattern of the game, the shot was too close to Etheridge who caught comfortably.
The Reds should have retaken the lead on 53 minutes when Michael Ngoo found himself put through one-on-one with Etheridge but the Philippines international made himself big and smothered the shot.
The Fulham stopper couldn’t cope as well with the visitors’ next effort though as he could only parry Pacheco’s shot, with Adorjan poking home the rebound to make it 2-1.
Kit Symons went about switching things round just past the hour mark when he withdrew Vigen Christensen and Banya and replaced them with Josh Pritchard and former Everton man Tom Donegan.
The Merseyside team should have been out of sight on 68 minutes but Morgan dragged his shot wide after Etheridge had spilled another speculative effort from range.
Symons then played his final card as Ronny Minkwitz entered the action as he replaced Brister.
Another confident run by Briggs on 76 minutes saw the full-back wiped out but the referee played advantage as Woodrow took over, but the striker’s curling drive landed in the grateful arms of Gulacsi.
A scramble in the area minutes later culminated in a Woodrow overhead kick that flew a yard or so wide – the striker was enjoying a lively game for the Under-21s, with his confidence brimming, although he couldn’t add to his tally as the Whites searched for a way back into the match, to no avail.
Fulham: 1. Etheridge, 2. Brister, 3. Briggs, 4. Tavares, 5. Arthurworrey, 6. Grimmer, 7. Vigen Christensen (c), 8. Kasami, 9. Woodrow, 10. Altman, 11. Banya
Subs: 12. Bettinelli, 14. Pritchard, 15. Minkwitz, 16. Donegan, 17. Islamovic
Liverpool: 1. Gulacsi, 2. Flannagan, 3. Robinson, 4. Sokolik, 5. Sama, 6. Coady, 7. Pacheco, 8. Roddan, 9. Ngoo, 10. Adorjan, 11. Morgan
Subs: 12. Pelosi, 13. Ward, 14. Huertas, 15. Teixeira, 16. Smith