After the disappointment of Monday’s defeat on Merseyside, Under-21s Manager Kit Symons was delighted with the response shown by his side against Chelsea at Craven Cottage on Friday evening.
A Charles Banya strike put Fulham ahead only for the visitors to strike back with a free-kick, before Marcello Trotta’s brace secured all three points for the Whites.
“I’m very pleased as it was a decent performance,” Kit told fulhamfc.com after the game. “Obviously we had a few senior players out there so it was good to get the win.”
The senior players he refers to are Philippe Senderos and Ashkan Dejagah – who both impressed in their 45 minutes on the pitch – Kerim Frei, and new signing Mickael Tavares. Frei put in a Man of the Match display with assists for both of Trotta’s goals, while Tavares demonstrated a real enthusiasm in the middle of the park.
The First Teamers in the side were perfectly complemented by some of our younger stars and Kit was pleased with the combination of youth and experience out on the pitch.
“It was a decent balance,” he said. “It’s always difficult when you have senior players coming down who haven’t been training with the group; they were all training with us on Thursday but obviously, as a group, they’re normally with the First Team.
“So it can prove difficult at times but it all seemed to fit quite well so it was very pleasing all round.”
Chelsea came close to finding a way back into the contest when they hit either post with free-kicks in the second half, but Kit was pleased with the way his side coped with our local rivals.
“They were trying to get back into the game and they were pushing so they were left a bit open at the back,” Symons explained. “They were committing bodies forward, as they do – they always play in the right way, they play good football and they’ve got a lot of good players, but so have we.
“We created a lot of good chances and probably should have made it more comfortable than it was in the end. Their biggest threat was from free-kicks but I thought we were dangerous with them as well; we hit the post with one ourselves.”
The opening goal is one that will likely split opinion as to what Banya’s intention was when he made contact with the ball. He deserves credit in the first instance for reaching it with a lung-busting sprint, before he volleyed the ball at full-stretch over the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
“He says to me he meant it!” Kit laughed. “He did have a little look up to see where the keeper was as the ball was coming in. I think he tried to control it to be honest but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say it was a good finish!
“He did really well to get something on it in the first place. It was a great crossfield, diagonal ball from Philippe Senderos – that was something we spoke about before the game as we thought that was an area where we’d be able to hurt them in behind their full-backs - and Charlie came up with his exquisite finish.”