Fulham’s Under-21s suffered defeat for the first time in the league this season after a 2-1 home defeat to Chelsea on Friday night.
Chelsea started brightly at a chilly Motspur Park in the Barclays U21 Premier League, with Jesse Joronen saving at the feet of Alex Kiwomya early on, before John Swift saw a shot from 25 yards fly straight into the arms of the Fulham keeper.
Swift soon found the scoresheet, however, sweeping home from close range in the 19th minute after Kiwomya had beaten Josh Pritchard and crossed into the middle.
Fulham responded with Buomesca Tué Na Bangna, formerly on the books of Chelsea, seeing a shot deflected just over, before Chris David sent Cauley Woodrow racing clear only for the striker to send his effort the wrong side of the post.
The miss came back to haunt Fulham as Chelsea increased their advantage shortly afterwards, and in some style, Lewis Baker smashing home a loose ball from the edge of the box in the 36th minute.
The second half began in much the same vein, with Kiwomya shooting too close to Joronen after being found by Nathan Ake.
Lyle Della Verde then went close for Fulham before the Whites were handed a way back into the game in the 55th minute when David’s trickery bamboozled Ake who fouled the Dutchman in the box to earn Fulham a penalty. Woodrow took the spot-kick and although Mitchell Beeney got a hand to it, the ball nestled into the corner of the net.
Woodrow, back from his loan spell at Southend United, almost levelled for Fulham, volleying just wide after meeting a corner. With five minutes remaining, Elsad Zverotić, playing in midfield, unleashed a long-range effort that whistled just past the post, while David forced a save from Beeney in stoppage time with a volley that lacked real power.
In the dying seconds, Swift almost added a third for Chelsea after a quick breakaway but shot into the side netting before the final whistle sounded to signal a rare defeat for Fulham.
Under-21s boss Kit Symons said: “It was a classic game of two halves. They were by far and away the better side in the first half. They had better possession, better chances and obviously scored the two goals. I thought we showed them too much respect and some of our players didn’t show enough courage when in possession of the ball.
“At half-time I let the players know in no uncertain terms that they weren’t up to the standards we’d been setting. And, to be fair to them, the response was excellent and we dominated the second half. We got one goal back but unfortunately that wasn’t enough.”
He added: “The fact that this group of players have been unbeaten going into February is a remarkable achievement. It’s something they can be very proud of. But now the run’s finished, it’s up to the players to start another one. We play Aston Villa away on Wednesday which will be tough - good, that’s what we want. We want challenges and we want to be tested.”
Fulham: Joronen, Donnelly, Pritchard (Passley 54), Buatu, Richards, Na Bangna (Williams 63), Zverotić, Christensen, Della Verde (Brister 76), David, Woodrow.