Fulham beat Arsenal 4-1 in their opening match of the season. Cameron Thompson scored a hat trick in the London derby, whilst Sonny Hilton scored the first goal for the Young Whites to bring them level after going behind.
The first shot came in the fifth minute, and it was the with the Young Whites pressing. Joe Felix flicked a clever ball and spun past his defender on the right, before shooting at goal. His effort was matched with a good save.
Arsenal had their first chance a minute later. Fol Balogun went through Fulham’s defence for a one on one with Luca Ashby-Hammond, the keeper rushed off his line quickly and made a crucial block.
The first quarter of an hour was tidy football from Fulham, attempting to poke holes in the Gunners’ defence with Abraham and Cameron Thompson running the channels.
Emile Smith-Rowe had Arsenal’s second chance of the match in the 18th minute, receiving the ball at the edge of the box, he curled an effort over the bar.
Thompson was next with an attempt, having run from midfield he shot from outside the area, but didn’t trouble Joao Virginia, in-between the sticks for Arsenal.
Arsenal’s defence was resilient for the first half, and the Gunners got more of a grip on the game, even though they did not have possession they were pressing high. When they did attack, Felix and Djed Spence made important blocks.
Jaydn Mundle-Smith and Zico Asare were doing well to marshal the men the were marking, not giving them any space.
The final ten minutes of the opening half saw both teams have attempts, Nicolas Santos-Clase went by himself and came close to an opener as he hooked a shot just wide of the left upright.
In the 44th minute it looked like the Whites had made the breakthrough, only to be denied by some superb goalkeeping.
Jayden Harris cleverly intercepted in midfield and linked well with Thompson. Having run the whole pitch, he slotted a ball back to Harris, and the keeper was forced into a diving save to keep the ball out of the net.
That wasn’t the end of the half, as Hilton found the ball at his feet within a metre of the line. He shot point blank, but Virginia made another important save.
Hilton had a second bite at the cherry with the rebound, but a blue shirt of in the way and blocked his shot.
The second half started more hectically than the last finished. Within 90 seconds the deadlock was broken by Arsenal. Balogun found a free header inside the box, and steered it past Ashby-Hammond into the corner to take the lead.
The Whites responded instantaneously, Santos-Clase broke down the left, pulled a ball into the box for Hilton, this time he slammed his effort past the keeper to level the game within a minute of going behind.
From the restart Fulham were within a whisker of going ahead. They regained possession quickly and Kelly direct, beating his defender and shot inches wide with Viriginia rooted to the spot.
60 minutes in and Ashby-Hammond was called into action twice, saving both shots from substitute Bakayo Sako. The first was easy enough, but the second needed him to dive fully stretch to knock it past the post.
Two minutes later the Whites took the lead for the first time. Thompson collected the ball inside the area after Hilton’s effort was blocked. He took his time to slot it past Virginia for the lead.
From there the Young Whites didn’t look back. Two minutes after the goal, Chris Kelly sprinted into the area and was tackled from behind, the referee took no hesitation to award a penalty.
From the 12-yard spot Thompson stepped up and slammed it into the bottom left corner with the keeper guessing correctly, but couldn’t reach his precise shot, creating a gap for Fulham.
Fulham were awarded another penalty as Harris was tripped up, muscling his way inside the box to give Thompson the chance to seal his hat trick.
Thompson changed direction and shot right, but at shoulder high the keeper guessed correctly to deny him.
Fulham managed the game well, Reece York had a chance to finish it the match completely, shooting from within the 6-yard line but straight at the keeper. The game was decided once and for all moments later, as Thompson collected the ball inside the box in stoppage time and tucked it inside the net to claim his hat trick.
A great display from the Young Whites saw them win in style in their first match of the season.
Fulham Line up: L.Ashby-Hammond, Felix, Spence, Francois (70’ De Havilland), Asare, Mundle-Smith, Hilton, Harris, Abraham (33’ Kelly), Thompson, Santos-Clase (80’ York)