Game plans almost worked out for us at Sunderland, says Fulham boss Symons

Vito Mannone
Vito Mannone
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KIT Symons almost saw his game plan come off for Fulham in Saturday’s goalless FA Cup clash against Sunderland.

Boss Symons opted to make four changes to the side which beat Nottingham Forest in the Championship last midweek, including resting hat-trick hero Ross McCormack and Hugo Rodallega.

The one-time Portsmouth and Fulham defender confessed: “We’ve had an awful lot of football in a short space of time.

“Obviously there was extra-time and penalties against Wolves (in the FA Cup third round replay 12 days ago). It’s a cumulative effect.

“With Ross, on the back of scoring his hat-trick in midweek against Forest, he’s got a little bit of a grumbling Achilles problem and it just made sense to rest him up, and I expected the game to go like it did.

“It was the plan for us to be very much in the game and to be able to make the subs. The rest of the game plan was to go and win it, so we didn’t quite manage that, but it sort of went to plan.

“Cauley (Woodrow) and Moussa (Dembele) put a shift in up front, worked very, very hard, caused their back three problems.

“Then I expected Ross and Hugo and Kaca (Alex Kacaniklic) to come on and win the game for us. We couldn’t quite manage that, but the boys had a right go and I’m very proud of them.”

Rodallega went the closest to scoring for either side, slamming a fierce strike against Vito Mannone’s left-hand post, and Symons added on “That was a great strike from Hugo and very unlucky, but (my frustration) was more our numerical advantage with a good chunk of the game to go – I fancied us to make more use of that.

“But, if anything, I think it stirred Sunderland into life and they showed their top-flight quality when they went down to 10 men.”

Symons hailed impressive Fulham keeper Marcus Bettinelli, who made a series of stops to deny Sunderland a breakthrough when they upped the tempo in the second period, after a tepid first 45 minutes.

“It’s a funny one with Betts now because I expect him to do that week in, week out because he’s been tremendous for us, he’s been really, really good,” said Symons.

“And when he was called on (against Sunderland) he was more than a match.

“He was in inspired form but, like I say, that’s him, that’s how he’s been.

“He’s a really bright young keeper, he’s a fantastic character and one that we’re very pleased to have.”