Alex Smith’s second-half penalty earned Fulham Under-21s a draw in a friendly match with Millwall at Motspur Park on Tuesday afternoon.
After a slow opening period, where neither side were able to find their rhythm, Fulham breached the Millwall defence on eight minutes although Josh Pritchard just strayed offside before squaring the ball for Smith who would have had the goal at his mercy.
Minutes later it was the visitors who had a glorious chance denied by the linesman’s flag when Dany N’Guessan found himself one-on-one after latching onto a long ball, only to be halted by the whistle.
Popular former Fulham keeper Maik Taylor was in goal for the visitors and was worked for the first time on 12 minutes, but Smith’s daisy cutter was never likely to trouble the veteran stopper. A flowing move from the Whites a minute later ended up at the feet of Cauley Woodrow on the edge of the box. The striker was clipped as he advanced, only to see the referee wave no foul.
An N’Guessan header after 20 minutes was Millwall’s first real attempt, but it was nowhere near Csaba Somogyi’s goal after the striker got on the end of a whipped Scott Malone free-kick following a foul by Philippe Senderos out wide. And Therry Racon should have perhaps done better when he sliced wide when well placed on 24 minutes.
The Lions were enjoying their best spell of the game and Somogyi was forced into a decent reflex save to keep out Danny Shitta’s dipping shot from range. On 37 minutes the away side came within a whisker of opening the scoring when Shaun Batt beat Somogyi to a long pass and lofted the ball goalwards, only for Jack Grimmer to make a superb acrobatic clearance off the line to safety.
On the stroke of half-time Millwall took the lead when Dylan Richards jinked his way into the area and cut the ball back to Batt who beat Somogyi at his near post. The Hungarian keeper got a hand to the shot but could only help it on its way into the back of the net.
The physical presence of N’Guessan had caused Fulham problems all afternoon and the big striker burst into the box eight minutes into the second half after holding off Grimmer, but his shot was straight at the onrushing Somogyi who did well.
Batt was presented with a glorious chance to double his and Millwall’s tally on the hour mark when N’Guessan found him with a great through pass. The forward couldn’t quite get the ball under control though and Alex Brister was able to make a decent tackle.
The Whites were awarded a penalty with a quarter of an hour left when substitute Lyle Della Verde was scythed down in the area. Smith sent Taylor the wrong way with the penalty but took it before the referee had given the green light and was forced to retake the kick. Fulham’s captain kept his cool to stick the ball in exactly the same spot at the second time of asking to draw his side level.
Fulham seized the initiative thereafter, but Taylor’s goal was never duly threatened as both sides settled for a draw.
Fulham: 1. Somogyi, 2. Brister (16. Passley, 82 mins), 3. Musa, 4. Tavares (17. Della Verde, 63 mins), 5. Grimmer, 6. Senderos, 7. Vigen Christensen (14. Minkwitz, 45 mins), 8. Pritchard, 9. Woodrow, 10. Smith, 11. Banya. Subs (not used): 12. Oberschmidt, 15. Arthurworrey.
Millwall: 1.Taylor, 2. Newman, 3. Malone (16. Sammoutis, 63 mins), 4. Wright, 5. Goodman, 6. Osborne, 7. Shitta (14. Wilkinson, 82 mins), 8. Racon, 9. N’Guessan, 10. Richards, 22. Batt (15. Aiden O’Brien, 66 mins). Subs (not used): 12. Fitzgerald, 13. Barlett.