Jack Hinshelwood’s stoppage-time goal earned our men’s under-21s a narrow but deserved victory over Fulham in Premier League 2 on Saturday.
The midfielder had seen his penalty saved by Alex Borto diving to his right, but Hinshelwood reacted quickest and smashed the loose ball into the net.
It secured back-to-back PL2 wins for Shannon Ruth’s team, who now have a two-week break before their league campaign resumes at Liverpool on 3 April. The win lifts them up to sixth in the table.
Kick off had to be put back for 45 minutes after the closure of the A27 delayed Fulham’s arrival at the American Express Elite Performance Centre and not surprisingly it was Albion who made the better start.
Andrew Moran was a constant threat when he got on the ball and he was involved when Albion forced Fulham keeper Borto into serious action for the first time. Moran’s pass found Imari Samuels making an overlapping run and Samuels’ ball across the face of goal looked as if it would be converted by Cam Peupion, but Harvey Araujo got in front to make a crucial block on the line.
Borto made a good save diving low to his left to keep out Luca Barrington’s low drive after more good work down Albion’s left and in first-half stoppage time Peupion slid a pass between Fulham’s central defenders for Mark O’Mahony to run onto. The Irish striker went to go round Borto but the keeper made a save with his outstretched left hand.
At the other end Killian Cahill had little to do in the first 45, although the quality of Martial Good’s finish didn’t quite match his name when Luke Harris’s pass put him in on goal but he fired wide of goal.
Borto showed his reflexes again early in the second half when he flung himself to his right to prevent Chouchane’s volley from the edge of the box from finding the top corner.
Fulham didn’t have a shot on target throughout despite getting into some promising positions, particularly in the last 15 minutes. Their best chance came on 64 minutes when Albion gave away the ball 25 yards from goal to Harris but with only Cahill to beat he lifted his shot over the bar.
The tireless O’Mahony, who had a terrific battle with Fulham defender Charlie Robinson, nearly touched home Nilsson’s low ball from the right but it looked as if it would end in stalemate.
Then deep into stoppage time Peupion and Nilsson linked up again down the right. Nilsson’s progress was impeded by a clumsy challenge from Araujo on the byline and the referee pointed to the spot. Borto made a good save to keep out Hinshelwood’s spot-kick but he had no chance when the rebound fell to the Albion player, who lashed it home.
Albion: Cahill, Nilsson, Jackson, Packham, Jackson, Chouchane (Mullins 65), Peupion, Moran, Hinshelwood (Duffus 74), Barrington, O’Mahony.
Subs not used: Everitt, Talley, Kavanagh.