Marco Silva was delighted as Fulham booked a place in the third round of the League Cup at Birmingham tonight after he had made ten changes to his starting line-up.
The Portuguese head coach had underlined the fact that promotion to the Premier League is his highest priority in the build up to this fixture, but still wanted his fringe players to give him some selection posers at St. Andrew’s. They certainly did that – with teenage striker Jay Stansfield scoring a brilliant first goal for the club and American full back Antonee Robinson coming off the bench to make the tie safe in stoppage time.
Silva told his post-match press conference:
“It was our aim to come here and match Birmingham, to try to get the job done and go through in the competition. And that’s what we did. We made ten changes, we deserved the win as we were the best team on the pitch. We respect the competition, we respect our opponent, our attitude and commitment was there.
It was not the best performance for both teams, for sure, but creating a winning mentality is really important for us, winning with a clean sheet again is really important as well. Job done, and we prepare now for the next one.”
The Fulham boss was full of praise for eighteen year-old Stansfield, who had a full debut to remember.
“He deserved the chance. He’s been working with me since I arrived at this football club. In some pre-season games he did really well. He’s working really hard to get the chance, tonight he got it, and he did well. He scored a really good goal, and we know he has the capacity to do that. In those areas, if he has the chance to finalise the action, he is really strong. And he did it. In that moment we pressed well as our opponents built up, and we got the ball and finalised the action well.
Silva was also pleased with the performance of young midfielder Adrion Pajaziti, who did not look overawed by the occasion as he completed the full ninety minutes in his first Fulham appearance.
“Again, he’s a boy that deserved the chance. He’s not working every single day with us, but we did some games against the Under-23s and he’s a player that always did well. As you know, we have some problems in our midfield, some injuries in that zone. Tonight we played a fourth game in 11 days, which is many, many games, and the other two midfielders played 90 minutes in the last three games, Fabio was not with us as well, and of course we have to change the two midfielders in that position. They deserved the chance, and these games, doing things well, making mistakes, they will learn and they will grow as football players.”