Guest blog by Adam Smith
The Fulham U21s are back to winning ways with a 2-1 victory over London rivals Arsenal, showing a confident performance rounded off by goals from Oliver Sanderson and Luke Harris.
Arsenal are now winless in 9 in PL2 Division One following defeat at Motspur Park on April 7th, where yet again they struggled in front of goal- aided only by an equalising strike Amario Cozier-Duberry early in the second half shortly after his introduction following the break. Fulham regained the lead minutes later, and were by far the better side overall, recording more shots, shots on target, corners and slightly edging ahead in possession.
Fulham quickly set about causing problems for Arsenal’s defence and continued to test goalkeeper Hubert Graczyk in the first half, until one of his parried shots fell to the feet of Sanderson who found the back of the net with a simple finish. Fulham striker Terry Ablade was also a consistent threat to the Arsenal goal, stinging the palms of Graczyk multiple times, but will be disappointed with some of his wayward finishes.
If Arsenal U21 manager Mehmet Ali would like to take consolation from any individual performances, he should look to his midfield and give praise to team captain Matt Smith, who seems to always be at the heart of their build up play and leads by example with his performances every week, or perhaps Mauro Bandeira who showed flashes of his quality over the course of the game, notably the big chance he created for winger Sagoe Jr early on in the first half. Manager Mehmet Ali has come under fire from some fans who are unhappy with his team’s continued poor run of form. They were outperformed in most departments by a seemingly more united Fulham team, and nothing should take away from the Cottager’s collective performance. It was Fulham’s team cohesion that made them the better side, although midfielder Oliver Sanderson was perhaps the standout performer. Aside from opening the scoring with his close range finish, Sanderson was an orchestrator in the middle of the park and played with a composed temperament; always the sign of a player with with maturity beyond his years.
Arsenal would have overtaken Fulham with a win, but instead now sit in 7th place, behind Brighton on goal difference, who they will play at home in their next outing. Meanwhile, Fulham will be delighted with the 3 points, now 5 ahead of Arsenal and only 2 points behind Liverpool in 4th spot. Similarly to Fulham’s senior team, their U21 players are showing that they can challenge and compete with with some of the biggest clubs in England, as both squads look to continue their impressive league campaigns this season.