Goals from central defender Dan Burn, and forgotten man Bryan Ruiz, topped off a strong first-half performance at Craven Cottage, but it was only a Marco Bettinelli penalty save that prevented the tie from entering extra-time.
Having been in few winning positions this season, with the Cottagers only other victory coming in the second round of the competition, when a lone Ross McCormack goal knocked Championship rivals Brentford out, caretaker head coach Kit Symons admitted that he thought performance levels dropped in the second half due to the unique situation.
Speaking to the official Fulham website after the game, Symons spoke of his relief at the final whistle, claiming that hanging on to the result in the second half will go a long way to restoring confidence amongst the playing squad.
When pressed for his emotions at full time, he said: “Relief probably more than anything else, with the way the game went. I thought we played some great stuff first half, some really good football, good combinations and link-up play, and we created lots of chances.
“Second half we made a bit hard work of it but it’s a case of building their confidence back up. They’re not used to being in winning positions, and certainly not at home, so to get the win is massive for us and is something that I’m delighted about and, judging by the reaction of the players, they’re absolutely delighted too.
“Confidence is a fragile thing that needs to be built up. I might not have that much time to do it so we need to work quickly and this was a good stepping stone, a good starting point.
“That hanging on tonight will go a long way to building that confidence but it’s not a quick fix, it will take time. But you saw how well we can play first half and how well we played second half on Saturday. It’s now getting that over 90 minutes, which is not far away, hopefully this Saturday.”
Despite confidence on the pitch still in an early stage of development, Symons also went on to praise the spirit amongst the players, naming the football club as a ‘happy place to be’.
“The players have been excellent,” he added.
“I’ve got to say, really positive, as is everyone at the Football Club so it’s a happy place to be at the moment and long may that last.
“That’s the way I’ve always taken my teams – it’s got to be hard work, it’s got to be organised, it’s got to be structured, but it’s important that the players enjoy it as well. Football’s a great game and it should be played with a smile on your face – I firmly believe that.”