Fulham U21s 2 Aston Villa U21s 0

Sunday 21 April 2013 17:02

Goalscoring centre-backs Stephen Arthurworrey and Jack Grimmer proved the difference at Motspur Park as Fulham U21s closed out a 2-0 victory over Aston Villa U21s.

Kit Symons' defensive pair marshalled the backline with a composed performance and also did the damage in the opposing penalty area, scoring a goal each, both from Sean Kavanagh's pin-point deliveries.

There was valuable minutes for first-team squad members Kerim Frei and Buomesca Tue Na Bangna, while Martin Jol's back-up goalkeeper Neil Etheridge posted an assured display in securing the clean sheet.

With forwards Chris David and Muamer Tankovic featuring in front of Lasse Vigen Christensen in an attack-minded midfield three, U21s Manager Symons was impressed at how the whole team maintained their defensive shape throughout, and held special praise for his match-winning centre-halves.

"With the fantastic delivery that Sean Kavanagh has got, we should be attacking set pieces, and the boys did just that today," Symons told fulhamfc.com 

"Stephen Arthurworrey did very well with his finish, and Jack's [Grimmer] was a good goal after a great header back by Cauley Woodrow, climbing at the back post.

"We should be a threat from set-pieces with those sort of players and today we were, with them scoring our two goals.

"Lasse Christensen played as a holding midfielder, and Lasse loves to get forward as well, so we were asking a few players to do something a little bit different and they had to be disciplined and they put in a good shift.

"Villa are a very good side and they showed that when they won the NextGen Series, we knew they had good movement and rotation with their wide players coming off the lines. 

"Our wide players had to narrow up defensively and we did that very well. I'm very pleased overall. There's still plenty of things to work on, as you would expect, and it's good to have another clean sheet."

Aston Villa had the first sight of goal but Samir Carruthers' volley flew harmlessly over Etheridge's crossbar, and the Whites were forced to contain their visitors in the early stages as Gary Gardner shot over.

But once the opportunity arrived, Arthurworrey delivered with a delicate glancing header, deflecting Kavanagh's whipped free-kick past Villans goalkeeper Benji Siegrist on 25 minutes.

Searching for a quick response, Derrick Williams failed to test Etheridge with a header but our Filipino shot-stopper was alert to deny Josh Webb at the far post.

The dynamic Frei created space for himself to slam at left-footed shot at goal but could not control his effort, which skewed over, and Etheridge was on hand again to deny Jack Grealish on the stroke of half-time.

Symons' side found another gear after the interval with Frei showing outstanding close control by bringing the ball down on his chest and crashing a volley back off the crossbar.

Villa were still making Etheridge work but the Whites kept them at bay, before captain Grimmer pounced on Cauley Woodrow's flick across goal to double the advantage.

It could have been three in the closing stages as, firstly, substitute Omri Altman's rocket strike cannoned back off the woodwork, before his next attempt forced a fingertip save from the full-stretch keeper Siegrist. 

"The second half was pleasing. I don't think we passed the ball anything like as well as we could in the first half," Symons added. 

"We spoke about that at half time and what we needed to do to rectify that and it was much better in the second half. We passed the ball a lot better and created a lot more chances. 

"We scored our two goals from set-pieces with great deliveries from Sean Kavanagh but then we could have conceded a couple from dead balls.

"We were a little bit loose on that. They had a couple of free headers and probably should have scored. We rode our luck in that respect but, overall, I think the boys at the back defended very well in open play."

Fulham: Neil Etheridge; Josh Passley, Stephen Arthurworrey, Jack Grimmer, Sean Kavanagh; Lasse Vigen Christensen, Muamer Tankovic, Chris David; Buomesca Tue Na Bangna, Kerim Frei; Cauley Woodrow.

Substitutes: Jesse Joronen, Ronny Minkwitz, Omri Altman, Charles Banya, Ryan Williams.