Manager Reaction

Saturday 7 February 2015 18:15

Fulham Manager Kit Symons was disappointed that his team didn’t build on their positive start against Birmingham City.

Hugo Rodallega put the Whites in front with less than five minutes played, but Blues grabbed an equaliser through David Cotterill’s free-kick after Jazz Richards was penalised.

Both sides had chances to win the game thereafter but no more goals were forthcoming as the teams had to settle for a 1-1 stalemate.

“We started very, very brightly,” Symons stated in his post match press-conference. “Even before the goal we had some good passages of play and some good opportunities.

“It’s almost a case of scoring too soon, maybe. It was a very good goal but we sat back a little bit then and they got more into the game, but most of it was from our mistakes in the first half.

“Most of their opportunities and things, chances that they had, were from our cheap giveaways or poor decisions. We actually started the second half slow, but then dominated from there, so in the end it’s disappointing not to have gone and won it to be honest.

“We’ll aim to finish as high as we can and do as well as we can and keep progressing, that’s all we can do so we’re fully focused on that. Tuesday away at Bolton now is another big one for us and we’re looking forward to that.”

The majority inside Craven Cottage thought Fulham should have been awarded at least one penalty in the second half.

Firstly, Ross McCormack found himself barged to the ground in the area, before Alexander Kačaniklić’s delivery was handled in stoppage time, and it’s the latter which Symons feels most aggrieved about.

“The McCormack one, I’ve not seen it properly again,” he admitted. “I saw it very quickly again and I think their lad might have got a little bit of the ball so I’ve got no problems with that.

“With the Kača handball, the boy [David] Davis has raised his hands – he’s quite close to him, but he definitely put his hands up and stopped the ball, so I thought it was a stonewall penalty, and it was right in front of the referee, that one. So it was disappointing not to get that one.”

With Birmingham playing three attacking midfielders behind a lone striker, they often looked to play wide in order to fire balls into the box, but Symons was pleased with how his team dealt with the threat.

“A big part of the gameplan was to get up to the ball quickly because they put a lot of crosses in,” he explained. “Cotts [Cotterill] especially has got very good quality and he doesn’t need to beat a man, he’ll just put a ball in if you give him a yard, so you need to get out there and close him down quickly, and I thought Kostas [Stafylidis] did very well with that today.

“They still put crosses in but we put them under quite a bit of pressure and I thought we dealt well with their wide players – I was quite pleased with that.”

Having not scored for 10 matches, Rodallega now has two goals in five days following his strike against Sunderland in midweek, and Symons is delighted to see the Colombian finding the net again.

“When I first took over he was scoring for fun,” he said. “Then he had a little spell where he didn’t, but he’s on form now so that’s great for us.

“It was a case, when I first took over, that Ross was assisting Hugo for a lot of his goals, then we went through a little stage where Hugo was helping Ross out. I don’t really mind who scores the goals as long as we are scoring.”

Much was made by external media of Marcus Bettinelli’s own goal in Tuesday’s FA Cup defeat, but the Fulham goalkeeper put in an assured display against Birmingham, pulling off several key saves.

It didn’t come as a surprise to his Manager who, when asked if it was difficult for him to recover from the incident, replied: “Not really, because he’s such a strong, good character.

“A mistake was made against Sunderland and he put it behind him straight away because, like I say, he is a really strong character like that, and that’s full testament to him and he had a good game for us today and made some great saves in the first half.”