Ricky Sbragia’s side slumped to a second defeat in a week with a 3-1 defeat at home against Fulham. The Londoners’ ran out 3-1 winners despite United scoring first thanks to a wonderful goal from Tahith Chong direct from a free-kick.
Man United were looking to quickly put Monday night’s 5-1 defeat to Aston Villa with a game at home against Fulham who at the start of the game were 11 points behind United in the PL2 Division 2 table. Ricky Sbragia’s side were bolstered by the return of Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes from the Dubai training camp. However, George Tanner missed out following Monday night’s red card and u23 regular Ethan Hamilton was unavailable, having departed on loan to Rochdale earlier in the day.
The opening stages of the game were tentative with neither side creating much in the first 10-15 minutes of note, although Lee O’Connor and Nishan Burkart were already showing their strong work ethic on the pitch, making runs on the flanks.
Stephen Humphrys extended the Cottagers' lead after the break to confirm a home defeat for the young Reds. pic.twitter.com/etKGJHxGv1
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 11, 2019
Aidan Barlow who was heavily involved in the attacking play of the first half picked out Burkart with a lovely ball out to the right wing. Burkart’s cross flashed across the face of goal which Chong almost got to but seemed to have stopped, thinking that the Fulham defender was going to get to it first.
Moments later, Gomes showed neat footwork to get into the box. He opted for Barlow with the ball, but Barlow’s shot was blocked by George Wickens. The rebound came out to Chong who again should have done better, his shot going well wide of the goal.
O’Connor made a series of well-timed blocks in defence as Fulham probed. Meanwhile, Barlow was on the receiving end of some rough treatment from Fulham, and one such incident led to a free-kick. Gomes and Chong stood over the ball before Chong curled it beautifully into the net. It was a beautiful free-kick but disappointingly one of not too many bright moments for Chong during the game.
However it wasn’t long before Fulham came back into the game and inside 10 minutes the game was turned on it’s head. The visitors equalised 7 minutes later. Matt O’Riley played in a corner which Mattias Käit’s glancing header steered into the net. 3 minutes later, a superb ball from Harvey Elliot split the United defence and Elijah Adebayo slotted past Matej Kovar.
A further blow came towards the end of the half as Barlow went down injured after a challenge and ultimately had to leave the pitch on a stretcher. The sight of him on crutches at the end of the game won’t be a happy one for fans.
Burkart was replaced by Josh Bohui at half-time. Bohui played a deeper role, with Zach Dearnley moving into the centre. This tactical change left Dearnley isolated for the second half and limited United’s options in attack.
By the hour mark, Humphrys had added another a third for Fulham. Humphrys was unmarked when he met the cross floating in across the box and finished easily.
United lacked urgency and didn’t have a shot on target between Chong’s free-kick and extra time. Kovar was on hand to make a couple of saves to keep the scoreline relatively respectable. Jaydn Mundle-Smith also left the pitch on a stretcher.
In injury-time both Chong and Gomes had attempts saved by Wickens but neither really troubled the goalkeeper and United slumped to a second defeat in a week.
Man United: Kovar, Warren, Poole (c), R. Williams, O’Connor, Chong, Whelan, Gomes, Dearnley (Mellor 77′), Barlow (Levitt 45+1′), Burkart (Bohui 45′).
Substitutes: Woolston, Ercolani.
Goal(s): Chong (27′).
Man of the Match: Lee O’Connor.
Fulham: Wickens, Jenz, Davies (c), Opoku, Mundle-Smith (Abraham 66′), Käit, O’Riley, Elliot, Humphrys (Cover 89′), Harris, Adebayo.
Substitutes: Stahl, Kelly.
Goal(s): Käit (34′), Adebayo (37′), Humphrys (60′).