Kit Symons’ Under-21s overcame in-form Aston Villa with a resolute performance bookended with goals from Omri Altman and Cauley Woodrow.
The young Whites travelled to Hinckley United’s De Montford Park to face a Villa team who had secured back-to-back victories in the second stage of the Barclays Under-21 Premier League.
With two draws and two defeats from their first four matches, Symons’ team were determined to get off the mark with a victory and they made the best possible start.
Nine minutes were on the clock when Israeli striker Altman’s smart footwork in the Villains’ penalty box created space for himself to fire past home goalkeeper Bradley Watkins.
In a closely-contested first period, Altman had the opportunity to double his tally on the quarter hour but this time Watkins was equal to his half-volley, as the Whites consolidated their lead heading into the break.
The home team’s first real sight at goal arrived on the hour mark when Andras Steiber dragged his strike across the face of Neil Etheridge’s goal.
Whites substitute Muamer Tankovic soon made his presence felt with a shot which cannoned back off Villa’s crossbar and, sensing that time was running out, the hosts were forced to open up and push forward in search of a leveller.
A well-organised Whites rearguard ensured the opportunity for an equaliser never arrived and our forward line eventually doubled the lead in the closing moments.
Tankovic burst forward and put the ball on a plate for Woodrow to notch a poacher’s strike from close range, leaving Symons delighted to seal a hard-fought victory, albeit late on.
“We could have had the victory wrapped up a bit sooner but I was really pleased with the overall performance,” Symons told fulhamfc.com. “It was a strong start and a well-taken goal by Omri. We played a lot narrower than usual, without any natural width in the team, but we had a few words at half-time.
“The second half was much better and [Villa Under-21s manager] Gordon Cowans came over to me and said it was a well-deserved victory, which means a lot coming from somebody like him.
“Neil Etheridge hardly had a shot to save all game but 1-0 is always a dangerous scoreline. My only gripe is that we should have put it to bed a bit sooner but I’m pleased we managed to get that second goal and see it out.”
Fulham: Etheridge; Passley, Kavanagh, Grimmer, Briggs; Islamovic, Minkwitz, Smith, Christensen; Altman, Woodrow. Subs: Joronen, Tankovic, Sambou, Arthurworrey.