FA Youth Cup 3rd Round
Team: Smith, Furlong, Kakay, Butler, Wise, Kpekawa, Young, Comley, Beckles, Mitchell, Grego-Cox.
Substitutes: Herdman, Mitford, Pattie, Haran, Corkery
Fulham came into this 3rd round tie at Loftus Road top of the Barclays Premier League table (South) so we knew it was going to be a tough encounter. Steve Gallen had to re-shuffle his side as he was without Andreas Komodikis and Olamide Shodipo who had both picked up injuries in the previous league game against Millwall.
Rangers forced some early chances with the Fulham keeper, Marek Rodak, looking a little shaky at times. Brandon Comley had a couple of efforts blocked, Darnell Furlong’s diving header was deflected wide following good work by Reece Grego-Cox and Ryan Young’s shot was cleared off the line after their keeper fumbled.
The visitors were playing a very neat, precise game and took the lead after 20 minutes following a foul by Cole Kpekawa just outside the box.
Up stepped the Fulham No.19, Emerson Hyndman, who bent his free kick over the Rangers wall and into the corner of the net.
Fulham were now in the ascendancy and doubled their lead 5 minutes later through Dean O’Halloran from close range. The visitors had another very good opportunity, but it was the R’s who got the vital third goal after 35 minutes when the Fulham defence failed to clear a corner and Harly Wise was on hand to force the ball home.
However, Fulham notched up their third goal of the night four minutes later. Just before the interval Ryan Young was booked and Mark Smith denied the visitors a fourth goal with a superb save from close range. Half-time: 1-3
A couple of minutes after the break, Ben Beckles forced his way through after Fulham had lost possession, but Marek Rodak was able to make a comfortable save.
The visitors were once again looking very dangerous with good movement coupled with some diagonal and defence splitting passes which paid dividends for them after 54 minutes. Jordan Evans neatly dispatched a through-ball from Patrick Roberts wide of the Rangers custodian.
Mark Smith went on to make a string of fine saves and Cole Kpekawa magnificently blocked a follow-up shot. But Rangers fought on and created some good chances of their own courtesy of Aaron Mitchell and Harly Wise.
Steve Gallen made two changes in the second-half with Tyrell Mitford replacing Reece Grego-Cox after 67 minutes and later Nathan Corkery was introduced at the expense of George Butler.
Rangers battled throughout, but Fulham deserved their place in the 4th Round. Two of the Fulham players that caught my eye were Soloman Sambou and Patrick Roberts.
Thanks to Joe English for the lift home.