Kit Symons was pleased to see his Fulham side confirm their place in the Fourth Round of the Capital One Cup with victory on Tuesday, but admitted the second half against Doncaster Rovers did not live up to the first.
The Whites took a deserved 2-0 lead into the break at Craven Cottage, but a confident second 45 by the visitors saw them claw a goal back, and they could have taken the tie to extra-time had it not been for Marcus Bettinelli’s superb penalty save.
When asked for his emotions at full-time, Symons replied: “Relief probably more than anything else, with the way the game went. I thought we played some great stuff first half, some really good football, good combinations and link-up play, and we created lots of chances.
“Second half we made a bit hard work of it but it’s a case of building their confidence back up. They’re not used to being in winning positions, and certainly not at home, so to get the win is massive for us and is something that I’m delighted about and, judging by the reaction of the players, they’re absolutely delighted too.
“Confidence is a fragile thing that needs to be built up. I might not have that much time to do it so we need to work quickly and this was a good stepping stone, a good starting point.
“That hanging on tonight will go a long way to building that confidence but it’s not a quick fix, it will take time. But you saw how well we can play first half and how well we played second half on Saturday. It’s now getting that over 90 minutes, which is not far away, hopefully this Saturday.”
Bryan Ruiz opened the scoring for Fulham when he put the finishing touch to a fine team move early on, and Symons has been impressed with his input since he took over as Caretaker Manager.
“He’s enjoying his football,” he explained. “After training yesterday, Bryan, Hugo Rodallega and Fernando Amorebieta, we couldn’t get them in.“They were still outside, it was a lovely day in the sunshine, playing keep-ups between them, so I was torn between telling them to rest their legs and telling them ‘enjoy yourselves boys, it’s lovely to see you with a smile on your face kicking a ball about.’
“Bryan scored a very good goal tonight so that will please him and give him confidence, and it was a good, well worked goal as well.
“I know how good he is. He’s just come back from playing for Costa Rica so we knew he was match fit so there were no issues along those lines. I spoke to him first to gage his frame of mind and he was very positive so it was quite an easy decision to make [to play him].”
Naturally, a significant portion of post-match questions related to the managerial vacancy, and Symons revealed he has been in touch with Mr Khan.
He stated: “I had a really good chat with the Owner and [Non-Executive Director] Mark Lamping which went very, very well. Mark actually came over today and he was at the game tonight. It went really well, it was very positive, very upbeat and very beneficial to all parties.
“It’s still the same situation and I spoke with Mark earlier and there will be a proper, thorough search for the right manager. And I’ve got no problem with that, I think that’s the right thing to do. I want the right person to take this football club forward – my challenge now is to make sure that person is me.
“There are no timeframes at the moment but I know from talking to Mark earlier that there’s no rush. They’re not going to rush an appointment, be that me or anyone else. They’ll take their time and make sure it’s the right appointment, which I think is the right thing to do.”
Symons also paid tribute to the spirit in the camp at present.
“The players have been excellent,” he admitted. “I’ve got to say, really positive, as is everyone at the Football Club so it’s a happy place to be at the moment and long may that last.
“That’s the way I’ve always taken my teams – it’s got to be hard work, it’s got to be organised, it’s got to be structured, but it’s important that the players enjoy it as well. Football’s a great game and it should be played with a smile on your face – I firmly believe that.”