Fulham Under-18s slipped to their first defeat of the Barclays Under-18 Premier League Elite Group phase on Wednesday following a 3-1 loss at Reading.
Steve Wigley’s side entered the game on the back of six straight victories, with a 3-1 home defeat of Reading included. However, the Royals had also been enjoying their own good form with two consecutive wins.
After a relatively even start, Fulham almost opened the scoring on 10 minutes, with the Reading goalkeeper, Dan Lincoln, making a stunning stop to keep out Moussa Dembele, who had claimed a hat-trick in the previous fixture between the two.
Muamer Tankovic was also denied with an equally impressive save, as again Fulham threatened to break the deadlock early on. Tankovic did have the ball in the net after 25 minutes, but the Swedish youngster’s strike was ruled out for offside.
Moments later, it was Reading that made the difference, with Dominic Hyam smashing in a volley following a knock-down from a corner.
And on the stroke of half-time, Sean Long doubled his side’s lead with a headed effort following a teasing free-kick from the right.
Dan Lincoln in the Reading goal made a fabulous sprawling save to deny Fulham minutes into the second-half after one of his defenders had misjudged a headed pass. He then kept out Dembele from the edge of the box.
The Whites did pull a goal back, though, with Dembele and Tankovic combining smartly before the latter finished with a cool side-footed effort.
With the deficit halved, Fulham looked for an equaliser with Emerson Hyndman trying his luck from distance, and Cameron Burgess (pictured) going agonisingly close with one stooping header.
But Reading’s two-goal advantage was restored when Uche Ikpeazu added a third with a powerful header with minutes remaining.
“It wasn’t our best performance of the season,” admitted Academy Director Huw Jennings to fulhamfc.com. “Reading play with a particular style and we struggled with that. To be fair to them [Reading], they did it well. For me, we didn’t really create enough and when we did get opportunities, we just didn’t take them.
“We conceded three goals from three set-pieces and, quite frankly, that just isn’t good enough. Our good run came to an end, but the boys will regroup and look to the next match which is a trip to Manchester United on Saturday.
“They’ll want to bounce back and show what they are capable of, so it’s a game we’re all looking forward too.”
Fulham 18s: Oberschmidt; Donnelly, O’Reilly, Burgess, Richards (Evans 60); Roberts, Sambou, Hyndman, O’Halloran (Williams 60); Tankovic; Dembele