Futures bright, as Southampton, Fulham hotshots net first senior goals in Saints win

    A pair of rising forwards showed glimpses of what the future could hold after registering their first senior goals as Southampton took all three points against Fulham.

    With the top flight status of Southampton secured and Fulham’s relegation fate sealed, a match with the shackles firmly off was expected at St. Mary’s. The Cottagers sprung a surprise pre-match with one eye perhaps on next season, handing 18-year-old forward Fabio Carvalho his first Premier League start after impressing in the PL2.

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    The game’s first major opportunity came from a defensive error from Fulham defender Ola Aina.

    Playing a blind ball back, Takumi Minamino pounced, but Aina showed great pace and desire to thwart the Japanese international before he could unleash a shot.

    Both sides lacked bite in the early stages, though an opener did eventually come from an area Fulham have rarely conceded.

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    Scott Parker’s side have conceded the fewest goals from set pieces this season, but have rarely come up against such a clinical set-piece specialist as James Ward-Prowse.

    The England hopeful whipped a delivery into the six-yard box that caused havoc, with Che Adams the beneficiary when slashing home above the helpless Alphonse Arreola.

    Ward-Prowse then threatened to double the advantage when standing over a free-kick 20 yards out. Too close to get the ball up and down, the midfielder opted for Arreola’s side but the goalkeeper held his ground and beat the ball to safety.

    Fulham offered very little in an attacking sense despite dominating possession. As half-time approached, Scott Parker’s side had registered just a single shot on target after benching more recognised forwards Josh Maja, Ademola Lookman and Aleksandar Mitrovic.

    The second half continued picked up where the first left off, with the Saints playing the more incisive football despite their lack of possession.

    Nathan Tella was handed a lengthy run-outwhen replacing Danny Ings prior to the hour mark, and wasted little time in making an immediate impact.

    An accurate low cross from Kyle Walker-Peters picked out the youngster who kept his composure to slot home from close range for his first senior Southampton goal.

    Not to be outdone, Fulham’s own young forward Carvalho then fired home his first senior goal off the underside of the crossbar following neat work from Bobby Decordova-Reid in the build-up.

    Any Fulham hope of completing a late comeback were quickly extinguished when Theo Walcott restored the hosts’ two-goal lead via a deflected shot.

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