Chris Martin felt Fulham’s five-goal margin was fully merited after the Whites matched their fine approach play with some flawless finishing to put promotion contenders Reading to the sword at Craven Cottage yesterday.
Such an emphatic result was the perfect way to bounce back from the disappointment of losing a lead at Brighton and Hove Albion last weekend and breathe new life in Fulham’s own promotion aspirations. Martin, whose second half brace settled any nerves after the second half surrender at the AMEX, told BBC London that the home side’s quality was really pleasing:
I thought it was fully deserved. I thought we were very good from start to finish, I think even before they had a man sent off, I think we dominated and I think that gave us that little bit of respite towards the end of the game, but I think arguably we played better stuff in the first half. The attitude, the willingness to work, the closing down, tempo, work rate, I think it had everything today, we really harried them – they’ve been a very good team so far this season and they’re on a very good run of form, so we knew that, we knew we would have to start well, press them high, try and get in their faces and try upset their rhythm a little bit. I felt we did that, played some very good stuff ourselves and probably deserved to be more than a goal up after the first half, I would say.
The Scotland international, who has now scored six goals in 14 appearances during his loan spell at the Cottage, believes that his resurgence in form after a tricky start has come from greater game time and getting used to how a much-changed Fulham side like to operate.
It was probably getting more rhythm and timing from playing – I had obviously played a couple of games at the start of the season [with Derby County] but I didn’t have a full pre-season in terms of games because I was slightly out of favour and I think just getting into the pace of things and getting really match fit. Getting to know the lads was part of it, it’s been well documented the amount of changes that have been made at the club in terms of personnel coming in. I think we’re now starting to see a slightly more settled team and I think that’s paying out for myself, but also the team.
Martin also revealed that his team-mates had something of a heart-to-heart after the defeat against Albion last weekend with several Fulham players pointing out where things had gone wrong. The importance of retaining the high performance levels from the first period was reiterated at half-time yesterday to avoid a repeat – and Martin’s goal early in the second half ensured there would be no slacking off.
Not going to lie, there was some stern words in the dressing room after [the Brighton game]. People weren’t very happy, both with themselves and each other a little bit – and that happens in football. You’ve got to lay your cards out on the table sometimes, I think a few of us done, a few of the boys put their points across and we said it, especially this time around, you’ve got to learn from your mistakes, as we went at 1-0 today [at half-time] and that was brought up what happened last week, that we didn’t start in the same manner. We certainly didn’t do that, we started on the front foot, played football in their half I think second half, didn’t give them a minute’s rest and obviously happy to get the second goal, just to settle us down that little bit. After that, there was the sending off that probably kind of killed the game for them a little bit and we were able to go on and dominate and it’s obviously very tough to play against a team with ten man. They found it difficult to live with us and we put some gloss on the scoreline.