George Williams hit an 89th-minute winner as Fulham’s Under-18s defeated their Reading counterparts 4-3 in a seven-goal thriller at Motspur Park on Wednesday afternoon.
Williams slotted home from close range after an outrageous piece of skill from Moussa Dembele had seen the Reading goalkeeper Stuart Moore parry the Frenchman’s shot into his path.
Reading had gone in front in the seventh minute through Liam Kelly, before the Whites levelled when Rob Dickie turned the ball into his own net. After the break, a Dembele brace put Fulham 3-1 in front but Reading substitutes Harry Cardwell and Shrat Ismajli hauled the Royals level late on. The game was heading for a draw until Williams’ even later intervention.
In blazing hot sunshine at Fulham’s Training Ground, two of the stand-out teams at this level (who competed in the U18s National Play-Off Final last season) played out a frantic match.
Indeed, Williams forced Reading keeper Moore into a diving save at his feet as early as the first minute. Two minutes later, the impressive Williams again got into space down the left but saw his shot parried away by Moore. Dembele pounced on the rebound but his effort was turned away by the goalkeeper again.
It was the visitors who went in front when a cross from the right by Nana Owusu was met at the back post by Kelly and his fine volley flew past Magnus Norman. But Fulham were level on 13 minutes. Jordan Evans freed Williams down the left and his cross-cum-shot was turned into his own goal by Dickie.
It should have been 2-1 to Fulham on 23 minutes when Williams showed brilliant technique to beat two Reading players on the edge of the box. His curling right-footed effort came back off the far post and Dembele blazed the rebound over from three yards. At the other end, Jack Stacey raced clear but saw his toe-poke come back off the post, before Solomon Sambou and Dembele went close for Fulham once more.
Even at the break, the Whites took the lead in the 56th minute when Dembele beat Moore to Evans’ floated ball over the top and slotted into an empty net. Dembele then made it 3-1 seven minutes later, prodding home Williams’ excellent crossfield pass.
Cardwell fired home from close range to reduce the arrears on 76 and Reading then made it all square when Ismajli’s shot went in off the inside of the near post.
A free-kick from Ismajli then forced a good save from Norman but it was Fulham who nicked the points when Dembele controlled a high ball forward on his chest, flicked it over his opposing defender and fired a volley at goal. Moore beat his effort away but Williams hungrily gobbled up the rebound to snatch victory for the Whites and maintain their 100 per cent winning start to the season from the opening three games.
Fulham: Norman, Donnelly, Baba, Burgess, Edun (Nabay 70), O'Halloran, Sambou (Smile 76), Hyndman (McDonald 86), Williams, Evans, Dembele. Subs (not used): Rodak, Sheckleford.