U21s Report: Fulham 1 City 3
A typically cool finish from Jacob Blyth put City’s noses in front during the first half at Motspur Park but Mananga Jonathan Buatu’s header levelled it for Fulham, who had only lost one league game all season prior to kick-off.
The Foxes responded brilliantly to haul themselves back into the lead however, when defender George Taft rifled home from close range with 20 minutes left before Michael Cain sealed the three points with a fine run and finish near the end.
Importantly, the result lifts the Foxes up from 12th to ninth position in the league, which will see the top 11 form a top-tier of elite Category 1 teams next season.
Afterwards, Development Squad boss Steve Beaglehole told LCFC.com: “It was a well-deserved victory. It wasn’t a game where we’ve been battered and been lucky, we fully deserved the win.
“For me it’s the best performance of the season, bearing in mind the opposition and the fact they’ve only lost once.
“It was a very good performance. The boss (Nigel Pearson) got in touch to say well done afterwards and that’s great. There’s a really good spirit at the Club at the moment and everybody is working together as a team, it’s fantastic.”
The Cottagers named a strong side for the clash, with January additions Kostas Mitroglou, Larnell Cole and Ryan Tunnicliffe in the starting XI, but City were able to keep them at bay in the early stages.
The focus was around Greece striker Mitroglou, but the duo of Taft and Kieran Kennedy dealt well with Mesca Na Bangna’s early balls into him and had a good chance to score themselves when Cain fired wide from Blyth’s knock down.
On 34 minutes a Tom Richards cross did finally find Mitroglou in space for the hosts only for the striker to fire into the side netting as he stretched to reach the ball.
Blyth soon made the league leaders pay for that missed chance when he raced onto a misplaced pass to confidently stroke a finish past Magnus Norman for 1-0.
After the break the hosts rallied, seeing a Mitroglou header glanced wide before Buatu managed to find the back of the net following a Fulham corner to level matters.
It didn’t take long for City to again edge ahead in the clash however, and it came from a corner of their own.
A great delivery from Cain wasn’t cleared properly by the Cottagers and Taft was on hand to convert from all of a yard out with 68 on the clock. Both teams relentlessly chased the fourth goal of the game in the closing stages with chances going both ways.
But in the end it was the Foxes who had the quality to make the final breakthrough when Cain was put clean through on goal to fire home and secure all three points.
Next up for the Foxes is a King Power Stadium clash with Manchester City on Monday 3 March (KO 7pm).
FULHAM: Norman, Passley, Buatu, Briggs, Richards, Na Banga, Tunnicliffe, Christensen, Cole, David, Mitroglou
SUBS: Brister, Pritchard, Della Verde, Oberschmidt, Plumain
GOAL: Buatu 54
CITY: Smith, Pearson, Elder, Sesay (c), Kennedy, Taft, Dawson, Cain, Blyth, Panayiotou, Dodoo
SUBS: Anton, Simpson, Frempah, McCourt, Barrington
GOALS: Blyth 38, Taft 68, Cain 86
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