Tom Cairney was full of praise for Fulham’s fighting spirit at Norwich on Friday – and described the 3-1 victory at Carrow Road as the ‘best away win of the season by a mile’.

The Fulham captain was particularly pleased with the Whites’ resistance after the visitors were reduced to ten men shortly before half-time when Chris Martin was sent off for an elbow on Mitchell Dijks. Instead of crumbling under the pressure, Slavisa Jokanovic’s side extended their lead and recorded a vital victory in the race for a Championship play-off. Cairney, speaking to the club’s official website, felt that the belief such a success will give his team-mates in the run-in could prove crucial.

After their victory last week we knew it was going to be tough. But nobody has doubted our ability this season. Our brand of football has never been in question but sometimes we’ve conceded goals where we should have defended better as a team, but on Friday we defended well from the first whistle.

The 26 year-old revealed that Jokanovic had stressed the high stakes resting on the result to his squad at half-time and Cairney was delighted with Fulham’s resolve after the restart.

We went into half-time a goal up and a man down, and the manager said: ‘It’s times like this where you’ve got to pull something out of the bag if you’re going to do anything this season.’ And I think we did that. We showed on Friday, especially playing for over half the game with ten men, how we dig in and fight for each other. We created a lot of chances but I think with ten men it’s our best away win of the season by a mile.

The captain was coolness personified in tucking away a penalty early in the second half that put Fulham two goals to the good – although he admits to feeling some pressure given the club’s atrocious spot-kick record this season.

I think a little bit, yeah, because we’ve missed 48 penalties this season! It was the fact that we were 1-0 up with 10 men and we had to win the game. It gave us the opportunity to have a bit of a cushion so it was a lot of pressure, and I was thankful to see it hit the net.

Cairney was full of praise for the travelling 1,500 Fulham fans, who were saluted by the entire side and coaching staff after the final whistle:

They were outstanding. That was probably the loudest I’ve heard them away from home this season. I think they appreciated the effort that we were putting into the game, and I’m delighted they were rewarded with three points.

Fulham’s attention has had to quickly switch to the prospect of facing Steve Bruce’s Aston Villa at Craven Cottage on Easter Monday and Cairney knows that will not be an easy assignment:

They were a Premier League team last season and they’ve spent big. They’ve spent a lot of money and have got plenty of talent and ability, people who know how to win Championship games, so it will be tough but if we turn up then not many teams can live with us.

I was hoping that Villa would do us a little favour yesterday [against Reading] but it wasn’t to be and it looks like we’re going to have to do everything on our own at the moment. It’s still in our hands so we’ve just got to go into it with the same attitude we had [on] Friday and get another three points.