Fulham Under-21s drew 3-3 with their Reading counterparts in an enthralling behind-closed-doors friendly match at Motspur Park on Tuesday afternoon.
In a match which epitomised the philosophy that a team is at their most vulnerable once they’ve just scored, Dino Islamovic put Fulham ahead on 18 minutes only for Reading to equalise through Gozie Ugwu less than two minutes later.
Islamovic restored the lead with an accurate strike from range shortly before the hour mark, but Fulham were in front for less than 60 seconds as Muamer Tankovic put into his own net.
The Royals then led for the first time in the game through Ugwu’s powerful effort, but Cauley Woodrow ensured the spoils were shared when he poked home two minutes later.
Fulham started brightly and had the game’s first opportunity after only three minutes when Islamovic intercepted a loose pass before finding Captain Lasse Vigen Christensen who then fed Woodrow to his right. Unfortunately, though, the striker took a fraction too long to pull the trigger and his shot was well blocked.
Islamovic then volleyed wide from distance, before Reading’s Shane Griffin slid a neat ball in between two white shirts to present Craig Tanner with a sight of goal, only for the forward to lash his effort wide.
The Whites then took the lead with a well worked move as Vigen Christensen waited until the perfect moment to play in Islamovic who had found space in the area. The big frontman then opened his body up and passed a left-footed effort first time beyond the goalkeeper and in off the far post.
Reading responded immediately, though, as Ugwu got up higher than Stephen Arthurworrey to accurately head Sean Long’s delivery beyond Neil Etheridge.
Tankovic then went close with two efforts, before Vigen Christensen chipped over the bar following excellent link-up play with both Woodrow and Islamovic.
Reading took control as the half drew to a close, with Daniel O’Reilly needing to be alert to get in a crucial block as Jack Stacey shaped to shoot having been played in by Ugwu.
Tanner then showed great skill to evade two Fulham challenges as he danced his way into the penalty area before squaring to Stacey who skied his first time strike when well placed.
The second half began relatively slowly but Fulham reclaimed their advantage shortly before the hour mark. The marauding Vigen Christensen was bodychecked 25 yards from goal and, after Tankovic’s free-kick had struck the wall, Islamovic was on hand to slam home from distance into the bottom corner.
Again, the lead was short lived as a mix-up in the Fulham defence resulted in a Tankovic own goal. A harmless ball across the face of goal was intercepted by the Swede who attempted to shepherd it back to Etheridge, but the goalkeeper had left his six-yard box to claim the ball himself. The pair then watched agonisingly as it trickled into the back of the net via the post.
The Philippines international then had to be on hand to palm Aaron Kuhl’s dipping free-kick to safety, while at the other end Arthurworrey nodded narrowly wide of the far post after connecting with substitute Sean Kavanagh’s corner.
With the match entering its final stages, things were really opening up and Reading took the lead for the first time following a slick counter attack that culminated in Ugwu lashing an unstoppable strike past Etheridge in the 77th minute.
But, just like their hosts, Reading could not remain in the ascendency as Charles Banya caused havoc inside their penalty area before finding Woodrow who maintained his composure to prod home the equaliser, in what was the last meaningful act of the contest.