Chelsea Under-18s had to settle for a point in a six-goal thriller away at neighbours Fulham, despite Donnell McNeilly's brace and a fine first-half goal from Tyrique George.

Chelsea started the day with a small chance of claiming the Under-18 Premier League southern title with a win over Fulham, if other results went out way. However, the title race will continue into May after we were held to an entertaining draw at Motspur Park.

We fell behind when goalkeeper Kai Crampton was dispossessed on the edge of the box, suffering an injury in the process, but Tyrique George round the Fulham keeper to draw us level in first-half stoppage time.

Donnell McNeilly then fired us into the lead twice in the second half, but on each occasion the home side were able to hit back, making it 3-3 at the final whistle.

Blues go behind

The Blues started the better of the two teams, as Ato Ampah forced the first save of the game from the Fulham goalkeeper and George had a goal ruled out for offside. But just shy of half-an-hour in it was Fulham who took the lead, when Tom Wingate challenged goalkeeper Crampton on the edge of the box to score.

Chelsea had a good chance to equalise following a succession of corners. This one ended with George just outside the box, scooping a pass over the outrushing Fulham defenders for Ampah, but it was a difficult one for the winger with the ball dropping over his shoulder and he volleyed too close to the keeper.

It was the same story a few minutes later when George was again the creator, drawing defenders in before squaring for McNeilly, whose low shot was saved.

There was a further setback for the Blues before half-time, though, when Crampton was unable to continue after picking up an injury in conceding the goal. He went off to be replaced by schoolboy Jack Austin, making his debut at this level.

All level by the break

We nearly had a fortunate goal of our own. George gave Ollie Harrison space to cross from the left with a clever back-heel and the midfielder’s looping delivery drifted goalward and dropped beyond the keeper’s reach, but hit the back post.

The equaliser seemed to be coming, and on the stroke of half-time we were level. George, who had looked most likely to create the goal, scored it. It was a lovely through-ball by Reiss Denny to set him free and, when the goalkeeper hesitated coming off his line, George punished him. A dummy, a left-foot touch to take it round him and a calm right-foot finish, and it was 1-1 going into the break.

It was an attacking start to the second half with some dangerous forward play by both teams, but neither was able to really test the goalkeeper in the opening stages, our best effort a Kaiden Wilson header at the back post from a corner which was comfortably saved.

Chelsea ahead twice

Before long Chelsea had taken the lead for the first time in the game, though. Harrison Murray-Campbell charged forward on the right and delivered a teasing low cross towards the back post. George didn’t hit his attempted finish cleanly, but Denny showed quick thinking to pick up the ball in the box and square for McNeilly to sweep in a close-range finish.

Unfortunately, our lead didn’t last long. There didn’t seem to be too much danger when Seth Ridgeon won possession on the halfway line, but he carried the ball forward and kept going, taking advantage of a Travis Akomeah slip on his way into the box before finishing into the bottom corner.

Fulham enjoyed a threatening spell after their equaliser, but the Blues were able to retake the lead with a little over 10 minutes remaining. Captain and centre-back Akomeah made amends for his earlier stumble by striding out from defence and playing in McNeilly. The striker held off the Fulham players in the box and his left-footed finish took a deflection, helping it over the keeper, who had gone to ground early.

Points shared

There was still another twist left in this game, though, and disappointingly for the Blues it was a Fulham equaliser, substitute Macauley Zepa - who had only been on the pitch for a minute - slotting in from a few yards out after Harrison McMahon’s brilliant last-ditch tackle only delayed the home team’s goal.

Chelsea continued to push for the winner until the final whistle, but there was to be no victory today.

What it means

Chelsea remain top of the Under-18 Premier League southern table, but our lead over West Ham United has been cut to two points, with Arsenal still in the race a further five behind. Five points from our remaining four fixtures would make us southern champions regardless of what other teams do.

What is next

We have the chance to extend our advantage in the table to five points when we host Leicester City at Cobham in one of our two remaining games in hand next Saturday 27 April. Kick-off will at 12pm.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Kai Crampton (Jack Austin 42); Harrison Murray-Campbell, Travis Akomeah (c), Kaiden Wilson, Genesis Antwi; Harrison McMahon, Ollie Harrison (Rio Ngumoha 75); Ato Ampah (Frankie Runham 68), Reiss Denny, Tyrique George; Donnell McNeilly
Unused Subs: Saheed Olagunju, Shaun Wade
Scorers: George 45+2, McNeilly 58, 78
Booked: Wilson 30, Denny 64

Fulham (4-2-3-1): Marco Underwood, Brad De Jesus, Bradley Slade, Chibuzo Nwoko, Samuel Amissah, Samuel Tabares (Jonathon Esenga 86), Thomas Olyott (Macauley Zepa 82), Seth Ridgeon, Aaron Loupalo-Bi, Tom Wingate (Farhaan Ali Wahid 64), Lemar Gordon
Unused subs: Oscar Varney, Macauley Zepa, Damon Park, Jonathan Esenga, Farhaan Ali Wahid
Scorers: Wingate 27, Ridgeon 67, Zepa 83
Booked: Nwoko 85