Tahith Chong accelerates past his marker.

Under-23s: Man United 1 Fulham 3

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.

Tahith Chong gave United the lead with a magnificent free-kick, but then the visitors took over the scoring to record an impressive win and leave the Reds fourth in the table. This loss came on the back of the reverse earlier in the week at Aston Villa, when coach Ricky Sbragia was missing several players.

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

The game started at a healthy pace with both sides putting the emphasis firmly on the hunt for goals. The hosts went close, in the 15th minute, when Nishan Burkart crossed from the right, but Chong narrowly failed to make contact. Two minutes later, Gomes was at the hub of another promising attack which came to an end when Fulham keeper George Wickens did well to block Aidan Barlow’s close-range strike.

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.

Tyrell Warren crosses the ball.
Tyrell Warren gets in a cross on the run.
United: Kovar; Warren, Poole (c), R. Williams, O’Connor; Whelan, Barlow (Levitt 45), Gomes; Chong, Burkart (Bohui 46) , Dearnley (Mellor 77).</p

Substitutes not used: Woolston, Ercolani.

Scorers: Chong 27 | Kait 4, Adebayo 37, Humphrys 60

NEXT UP

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.

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