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After two seasons of being dumped out of the League Cup by lower-league opposition, it was pleasing to see Fulham travel to League Two side Boston on Wednesday and put in a performance bristling with professionalism, attitude and no little skill.

The team Chris Coleman put out was a perfect mixture of youth and experience, and it gave goalkeeper Mark Crossley an opportunity to make a welcome return between the sticks.

“It was great,” he said, speaking at Motspur Park this week. “And it was good to get ninety minutes under my belt. It’s been a long time since I played a first team game, but this competition is an opportunity for the likes of me to try and impress and show what I can do.

“I didn’t have too much to do really. We started off well – with no disrespect to Boston you have to show the right attitude in games like that, and that’s what we did. Obviously we got an early goal which settled any nerves we might have had, and really we cruised from there.

“The pitch was good, and the ground was full even if there were only five and a half thousand there – but there was good support for Fulham. The weather was horrendous but we coped with it pretty well.

“We knew we were going to get bombarded in the box, and that’s what they did at every opportunity. They just tried to hit the big man up front – Jason Lee, who I used to play with at Forest. He’s all arms and legs, and I think Alain Goma came off a bit worse for wear – he had a cut to his eye after one challenge!

“That result will hopefully give us a bit of confidence to take into the league. It was a good result; we went up there to do a job and we did it well.”

The match gave Crossley the opportunity to assess some of the young players in front of him in a difficult competitive environment – and some of the older ones as well!

“Since I’ve been here I’ve been really impressed with Zesh Rehman who’s got a great future ahead of him,” he said. “Adam Green’s coming on well, and young Liam Rosenior played very well – I thought his sending off was a bit harsh.

“I think it’s a massive boost for the team that Steed Malbranque came through unscathed. He was outstanding – if he played in that division every week he would score fifty or sixty goals a season!

“Brian McBride is the best pro I’ve ever worked with. He never moans, he just gets on with things and I thought he was the best player on the pitch against Boston. Tomasz of course got his couple of goals as well, so hopefully morale will be really high going into Saturday’s game against Southampton.”

Birmingham might not have been the opponents of choice for the next round, but Crossley is looking forward to the tie, and hopeful that this year the Whites can really make an impact on the tournament.

“It’s not the greatest of draws,” he said. “But there’s no reason why we can’t go up to St Andrew’s and get a result. Middlesbrough showed how good this competition can be for morale – they’re in Europe and it’s got Teeside buzzing. It would be nice if we could do the same and go all the way.”

Boston might be a little known side, but amongst their numbers on Wednesday was one of the highest profile players English football has known over the last fifteen years – Paul Gascoigne. Crossley was delighted to see him back out playing again.

“I’ve been up against him a few times before,” he said. “He seemed to be enjoying it which is the main thing. The lads said he was acting around like he always used to when he came off in the second half!

“But on the pitch we managed to keep him pretty quiet. He had a couple of good deliveries from free kicks, but it was good to see him play.”

Conversation then took us around to the sad news of Brian Clough’s death this week – Clough of course was the man who gave Crossley his start in the game.

“He’s certainly someone I’ll never forget,” he said. “He gave me my big chance in football. I worked with him for six years and I would say he’s the most generous man I’ve ever met.

“It’s a sad loss, and he’s definitely someone who’ll never be forgotten.”

Crossley went on to look at Saturday’s game against Southampton. He believes that the win against Boston is just the fillip the team needs to start putting a decent run together in the league.

“It was important to get the win,” he said. “And it was also important that we scored a few goals. We’ve got a few suspensions coming up, but we’ve got a few lads coming back as well.

“Chris has got a selection headache now, but it’s a good one to have. Everyone wants to play in the First Team, and perhaps some of the players had a point to prove against Boston to show what they can do.

“Hopefully that result will do our morale the world of good and will take us on to a win against Southampton. It’s essential that we win the game on Saturday – I’ve been down at the bottom with teams before, and if results don’t come along, it’s Christmas time before you know it and you’re still down there.

“We weren’t out of the top ten last season, and now it’s important that we put a run together and climb up the table again. We were expected to do better after what we did last season, and I’m sure it will come.

“I think we’ve got a better squad than last year, we’ve just got to tighten up a bit and stop conceding so many goals.”

Crossley finished by revealing what Billy McKinlay had said to the team before they went out against Boston:

“Billy McKinlay’s quote before the game was – ‘There’s a Premiership team going to be knocked out of the Cup tonight – it’s not going to be us!’ – that was a great statement to make, and our attitude when we went out there was superb.