Fulham Under-21s were held to a 4-4 draw by their Wolverhampton Wanderers counterparts in a pulsating game at Motspur Park on Friday night as Muamer Tankovic and Buomesca Tue Na Bangna netted two each.
Kit Symons’ boys had won all three of their Barclays Under-21 games to date but failed to continue their 100 per cent record despite a fine attacking performance that saw them net three goals in the final five minutes of the first half.
Wolves started with former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Jamie O’Hara in the centre and they were almost ahead inside 19 seconds as a cross found the head of David Moli, but the striker put it wide. Another cross a few seconds later saw Robbie Parry volley over as goalkeeper Marek Rodak, making his U21 debut, was untroubled.
Fulham made them pay minutes later as Tankovic took the ball, turned and hammered a shot which was deflected past Jon Flatt and into the net. However, inside 10 minutes, Wolves were level. A mix-up in the Fulham midfield let Liam McAlinden in and the striker slotted coolly past Rodak for the equaliser.
On 15 minutes, Fulham broke away with Na Bangna down the right. The winger cut inside and hammered a low shot that only narrowly missed the post. Good interplay on the edge of the area then gave Lasse Vigen Christensen some space, but his cross evaded all the white shirts in the box, before the Denmark midfielder’s throughball almost found the advancing Cauley Woodrow but he was flagged offside.
Woodrow got a great chance to put us ahead again, however, on 20 minutes as Tankovic’s flick-on saw him burst through on goal, only for Flatt in the Wolves goal to make a great low block when one-on-one.
Fulham continued to attack and Na Bangna’s quick feet in the box, after he controlled a long ball, made space for Tankovic but his shot was deflected over as Wolves closed ranks.
On the half-hour mark, Chris David burst from inside his own area to feed the ball down the right to Na Bangna, but his cross was headed clear from inside Wolves' six-yard box. Just two minutes later, however, a ball in from Kristian Kostrna found the head of McAlinden and it looped over Rodak and into the net to make it 2-1 to the visitors.
Wolves then hit the bar as the half drew to a close. Great feet from Parry opened up some space and his curling ball in was headed off the crossbar by Sam Whittall. But, almost immediately, we were level as Vigen Christensen was released by Woodrow down the right and burst into the box to see his low cross expertly finished by Tankovic.
A shocked Wolves were then made to pay as Na Bangna grabbed two goals in two minutes. Brister got away and curled a cross in which was cleared out to the winger who hammered home. The Portugal Under-20 international then latched onto a wonderful long pass from Sean Kavanagh, skipped past his man and slid the ball under the advancing Flatt to make it 4-2 just before the whistle blew.
After the break Jack Grimmer was called into action as he got a glancing header to prevent McAlinden getting his hat-trick and the play was held up for five minutes after a sickening clash of heads between Michael Ikiekwe and Sam Whittall, who both had to be taken off. After the restart, Wolves hit back as substitute Mananga Jonathan Buatu, who had come on for Brister,was penalised for a push in the box in the 60th minute. McAlinden stepped up and, although Rodak made a brilliant low save, the Wolves striker tucked the rebound home for his hat-trick to make it 4-3.
After the hour mark David picked up a back injury but was able to play on and we controlled the possession in midfield with Tankovic and Kavanagh linking up well to present Vigen Christensen with a chance that was saved by Flatt.
But Wolves hit back and were level at 4-4 on 77 minutes as substitute Jim Kellerman hammered a shot from outside the area which was deflected past the stranded Rodak. Woodrow almost put us back ahead two minutes later as his curled effort clattered off the bar and the bouncing ball just evaded the striker when David lifted it over the top for him to chase down.
In the last 15 minutes we pushed up and Grimmer clattered the bar as the ball dropped to him in the box, then Woodrow was slipped in and his chip over the goalkeeper was cleared before it could drop inside the far post. It was a breathtaking finish to a wonderful game and Rodak was forced to pluck a shot from the air as it drew to a close.
In the final minute Woodrow controlled in the box and clipped the bar for the third time in the half, then the ball dropped agonisingly in front of a white shirt after a cross from Banya. The winger then laid the ball back for David on the edge of the area, but the shot dipped just over the bar and we were forced to settle for a point when our attacking play deserved a lot more.
Fulham: Marek Rodak, Alex Brister (’45), Josh Passley, Jack Grimmer, Sean Kavanagh; Lasse Vigen Christensen, Chris David, Buomesca Tue Na Banga, Tom Richards (’56), Muamer Tankovic, Cauley Woodrow. Subs: Magnus Norman, Charles Banya (’56), Dino Islamovic, Jonathan Buatu (’45), Ronny Minkwitz.