With the help of a 15-year-old Surrey schoolboy, Slavisa Jokanovic’s Fulham taught fellow Londoners Millwall a lesson in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night.
Jokanovic decided to make the majority of those sitting in the stands feel old in the 80th minute, press box included. With the win wrapped up, he introduced Harvey Elliott from the bench.
Elliott, despite his old-fashioned footballer name, was born in 2003. At 15 years and 174 days, the winger attended school on Tuesday then travelled to The New Den for the match on the night.
Joe Bryan (right) fired Fulham into an early lead against Millwall during their Carabao Cup tie
The 25-year-old gave the Premier League side the lead with a low left-footed strike
Fulham’s No 23 was quickly congratulated by his team-mates after his goal in Tuesday night
Millwall: Amos, McLaughlin, Murray Wallace, Cooper, Ferguson, Karacan, Skalak, Tunnicliffe, O’Brien, Gregory, Elliott.
Subs: Williams, Jed Wallace, Romeo, Martin, Webster, Morison, White.
Fulham: Sergio Rico, Steven Sessegnon, Ream, Le Marchand, Christie, McDonald, Zambo, Bryan, De La Torre, Kamara, Ayite.
Subs: Odoi, Chambers, Mitrovic, Ramirez, Cisse, Elliott, O’Riley.
Referee: Darren Bond (Lancashire)
Born two days after Wayne Rooney’s first start for England, Elliott soaked in the experience as Fulham secured a stylish win to advance to the fourth round.
Official records on the youngest players to ever play in this competition are vague, with dates of birth missing from football’s database due to data protection laws.
Ashley Chambers – for Leicester against Blackpool in 2005 – was believed to be the man to beat at 15 years and 203 days. Elliott broke that when introduced.
This was a win that felt more like an exhibition match at times as the Premier League side toyed with their Championship counterparts.
They got three goals, courtesy of Cyrus Christie, Joe Bryan and Luca De La Torre, but should have scored several more.
Managers tend to toe the party line in pre-match press conferences when asked whether they plan to take the Carabao Cup seriously. Their line-ups often tell us what they really think.
Luca De La Torre roared with delight after doubling Fulham’s lead just after half-time
The 20-year-old made the Millwall defence pay when he scored this right-footed effort
Fulham’s No 36 celebrated with his team-mates after scoring seven minutes after the restart
Millwall’s priority this season is to secure survival in the Championship, with them currently third bottom in the table, while Fulham are focusing on the Premier League.
As a result, Millwall manager Neil Harris made eight changes to his side, while Jokanovic made 10. The Premier League side adapted better to their boss’ alterations.
Within seven minutes, Fulham took the lead with Bryan breaking through on the left before lashing the ball beyond Ben Amos. Good footwork from De La Torre had led to the goal.
A series of chances then went to waste with Kevin McDonald, Tim Ream and Bryan among those who came close to scoring a second for the away side.
By half-time, Fulham had managed 10 shots to Millwall’s one, with Harris’ men booed off at the break. Even though it had felt like 45 minutes of an attack-versus-defence training exercise, the scoreline was still slender.
Millwall pulled one back just after the hour mark through this Tom Elliott header
Elliott watched on as his header flew into the roof of the Fulham goal to give Millwall hope
The 27-year-old striker was congratulated by his team-mates after scoring
In the 52nd minute, the visitors finally doubled their advantage. Floyd Ayite crossed, De La Torre controlled and beat Amos comfortably.
Millwall hit back out of the blue when a corner caused confusion and Tom Elliott scored, but the tie was soon killed off.
Christie lined up a shot from 25 yards in the 68th minute and found the bottom corner, sealing Fulham’s victory.
Jokanovic then decided to introduce Elliott, much to the delight of the visiting supporters. ‘He’s got school in the morning,’ they sang. Indeed, one imagines he will be popular in the classroom on Wednesday.
Cyrus Christie scored the goal of the game with this left-footed effort on 68 minutes
Millwall goalkeeper Ben Amos could only stretch for the ball in vain as the strike was too good
The 25-year-old was mobbed by his team-mates after scoring the goal of the match
Harvey Elliott came on to make his debut for Fulham late on – at 15 years and 174 days