Stephen Kelly says Fulham’s performances will improve with greater game time after they reached the second qualifying round of the Europa League with a goalless draw in the Faroe Islands.
The Republic of Ireland full-back feels Fulham should benefit from playing competitive games at a time when most of their domestic rivals will be returning to pre-season training or involved in friendly games and had words of praise for the small band of hardy travellers who made the journey to the Faroes to watch the Whites against NSI Runavik.
It was hugely impressive to see the fans make the trip to the Faroe Islands. It’s certainly not the easiest place to reach with no regular flights and you’ve got to hold your hands up to them for the dedication they’ve shown to get behind us.
I think the fans are all excited and hopeful that we can enjoy a journey like we did last time we were in Europe. As a club we really have got dedicated fans that will come and support us wherever we’re playing. Hopefully we can get a win for them in the next round and move on from there.
Kelly, who replaced Chris Baird at right back for the second leg, was disappointed that Fulham failed to break down their stubborn opponents.
We had good chances and plenty of possession but they defended in numbers and made it difficult. We got a clean sheet and it was a good performance at the back and we’re through to the next round.
We should benefit from the fact we’re playing competitive games rather than friendly matches. Sometimes, pre-season friendly games can be exactly that, whereas in these games there’s something to play for and that should help us with our fitness because we’re putting more into it.
The fact that we’re playing teams that are out to prove a point and make the next round themselves means we have to do that little bit more to beat them and over the two legs we put in good performances. We didn’t score on Thursday night which was disappointing but as I said, we’re in the next round.
It’s started early for us again but it’s got that feeling of another European tour already. It would be great if we could continue progressing and it’s great to go away to different countries. I’d never been to the Faroe Islands before and it’s a landscape we would never see unless we were involved in the UEFA Europa League.
It’s been a good test for us and as much as it was a competitive match, it was only our second game of the season on Thursday night. Now we’ll be sharper and hopefully that will show against the Crusaders next week.