Tom Cairney was delighted to convincingly win the west London derby at Griffin Park last night – insisting that the players owed the Fulham fans a performance after two disappointing years against Brentford.
Cairney, who marked bis 200th domestic league appearance with the clinching second goal in stoppage time, also felt that the manner of Fulham’s victory sent a signal to the rest of the Championship that their five-goal mauling of Huddersfield last weekend was no fluke. The Fulham captain was a little disappointed that the visitors didn’t have more than Sone Aluko’s strike to show for their dominance at half time, but credit some disciplined defending for preserving the lead during the second period.
After last Saturday’s result, I think we wanted to show it wasn’t really a one-off. I think in the last few years we’ve come here and got handsomely beaten – and I think we owed that performance to the fans tonight. I think we dominated from start to finish.
In the first half, I think we had something like ten shots, they had none. I think we were unlucky at half time not to come in with a more comfortable lead – but these things happen. I think the boys at the back defended the box brilliantly, especially under the cosh a little bit second half. We could have finished it with a few breakaways in the second half and it seemed a great game for the neutral.
We played great football last season, but we conceded far too many goals. That starts from the front as you know and we’ve been a lot more solid this year, especially the last few weeks, and I believe with the players we’ve got in this team, we’ll always score goals.
Cairney could have secured the victory earlier than he did, but Daniel Bentley just beat him to a through ball by sprinting out of his box to clear. The Scottish midfielder, who must be closing in on a place in Gordon Strachan’s squad if he continues this fine form, says he has made improving his goalscoring return from midfield a major priority this season – and he took his goal with the composure one has come to associate with the one of the league’s leading performers.
It was one of them moments where you shut your eyes. I was expecting a bit of a car crash. It was one of them things, I wish I had got there a little bit earlier, but I didn’t, but the relief when I scored was magnificent. That’s what I’m trying to do, get in goalscoring positions. I feel like I can finish well from midfield and if you’re going to anything in the season, you need your midfielders to chip in with goals. That’s definitely my aim.
Asked by talkSPORT if he felt Fulham could now become genuine play-off contenders, Cairney felt his team could match anybody in the league on their day. The key, of course, is developing the consistency that could carry them into the top six.
I don’t see why not. I’d back us against any team on our day. I think we’ve got match winners in our team and, as you say, as long as we keep it tight at the back, I fancy us to win more games than we lose.