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Carling Cup: Fulham 6, Port Vale 0

26 August 2010

(Apologies for the delay. The not-so-excellent free WiFi at McCarran Airport ate the first post last night.)

“As soon as we saw the team sheet we knew we would be in trouble.”

That quote from Port Vale manager Micky Adams, a former Fulham boss himself, says all you need to know about the gulf in class between the Premiership side and their League 2 visitors. Mark Hughes didn’t mess around, making only three changes from the side that drew 2-2 with Manchester United on the weekend, and he was rewarded with a dominant performance that featured stylish goals, albeit against an overmatched foe.

Here’s Zapruder-style footage of Bobby Zamora’s second goal, which made it 5-0 at the time.

The quick important takeaways:

1) Matthew Briggs made his senior team debut and was very impressive, repeatedly rampaging down the wing and teeing up Zoltan Gera with a cross for Fulham’s opening goal just 10 minutes into the match.

2) Moussa Dembele got the start and opened his Fulham account with a cracking left-footed drive before being subbed off at the half for Clint Dempsey. The switch was made in the other direction on Saturday, so right now it seems like Hughes considers them as similar parts in his overall scheme. It will be interesting to see how long it takes (and against whom) Hughes decides to play both of them *with* Gera in what would be Fulham’s most creative offensive lineup.

3) David Stockdale continues to impress, showing that he can stay focused and make a nice save or two when he’s not being challenged for stretches of the match. I still don’t know that Fulham want to ride him for a full season this year (similar to City’s approach with Joe Hart two years ago), but he looks a lot surer than in last season’s Carling Cup affair at Eastlands. His competence may dictate how comfortable Fulham feel about selling Mark Schwarzer this week and who they would then have to bring in as competition.

The Cottagers should feel good about things as they head into two very winnable league matches — at Blackpool and then home to Wolves. If Hughes is sitting on eight points after four league matches, things will be off to a very positive start in Southwest London.

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