Manchester United’s Under-23s tasted defeat for the second time in five days when going down 3-1 to Fulham at Leigh Sports Village on Friday evening.
Captained by Regan Poole, United wore our normal strip of red shirts and black shorts while Fulham, who usually turn out in white shirts and black shorts, were in all blue. Chong and Angel Gomes, who flew back on Thursday after being part of the first-team squad which had been in Dubai for five days' warm-weather training, were both included in United’s line-up.
Watch Chong's goal for the U23sVideo
These early chances for United suggest that Fulham were only busy in defence, which is far from the truth for the lads from west London were also making openings – most notably when a timely challenge from Lee O’Connor prevented Harvey Elliott, Fulham’s 15-year-old winger, from finding the net.
Sbragia's side moved into the lead after 27 minutes thanks to a blistering free-kick from Chong, United’s latest senior Academy debutant, which found the target from fully 25 yards out, before Wickens had the chance to move.
Seven minutes later, Fulham were on terms when Matthias Kait glanced his header home from Matt O’Riley’s corner. And, in the 37th minute, Fulham shocked United by taking the lead with a well-worked goal as Elliott threaded a glorious ball through to striker Elijah Adebayo, who instantly fired his shot under Matej Kovar’s diving body. The Reds were forced to make a change to our line-up, seconds before half-time, after the injured Barlow had been stretchered from the field to be replaced by Dylan Levitt.
Sbragia took the opportunity at half-time to make another change - sending on Josh Bohui in place of Burkart, as his team certainly needed to be more prominent in front of goal but, a quarter of an hour into the half, the predicament became more serious when Fulham’s Stephen Humphrys struck to increase his team’s lead, pouncing when Jayden Harris's cross from the right skimmed off Tyrell Warren's head, to lash the ball past Kovar.
Although Kovar made one superb save, the home side had plenty of possession but were unable to carve out enough clear-cut opportunities to suggest there was a route back into the game.
With D’Mani Mellor on for Dearnley, there was a determined push forward in the closing stages, but the Fulham defence stood firm. Substitute Mellor flashed one drive wide before a Gomes free-kick and left-footed drive by Chong worked Wickens with time running out but there was no way through in the end.
Substitutes not used: Woolston, Ercolani.
Scorers: Chong 27 | Kait 4, Adebayo 37, Humphrys 60
The Reds have a Premier League International Cup clash with PSV Eindhoven at Leigh Sports Village on Thursday, kick-off 19:00 GMT, and it's live on MUTV.Reading this in our app? If not, you might miss some exclusive features not found on ManUtd.com. Download the Official App here.