Bakary Sako’s 12th minute header proved to be the difference between the sides and propelled the Eagles into the next round of the Carabao Cup, and Hodgson was pleased with the display of his team, and was full of praise for a pair of returning defenders.
In his post-match press conference, he talked about a number of topics, including:
The game: “I’m very pleased with the win and the first half performance, especially after a week’s work. In the second half I was pleased that when the game got a bit tougher we had to dig in, fight, chase and throw ourselves in the way of shots, and we did that too. It was a very positive evening, especially given we left a lot of players out of the team who have been playing, and others that haven’t for a long time and they came through OK.
“We still have a lot of work to do tactically with the players until we are satisfied that we can produce the level of the first half performance for longer period. However, after one week it would be very churlish of me not to praise the players and I am very happy with the contribution tonight.
“I was also happy with the fans; it wasn’t a full house which is common in these type of fixtures but the fans that were here were very supportive and I think the players would have been happy to leave the field with applause ringing in their ears.”
Methods coming through: “I’m delighted to be back on the training field with these players because I think they have a genuine desire to get better and become a better team, and this win shows that it’s worth pursuing, and if we keep doing that then we can become a team that is hard to beat and cause more problems for the opposition because we did that tonight.
“You don’t repair the damage we’ve suffered overnight; it’s going to be a long, hard process but I know that there’s light at the end of the tunnel and saw some shards tonight.”
Mamadou Sakho: “He was excellent considering it was his first game and he hasn’t been able to train as much as we would like. We were worried about his level of fitness to play 90 minutes against another Premier League team but were surprised that he lasted as long as he did, and he could have lasted longer. He wasn’t desperate to come off or slow down, but as a precaution we felt he had 70 minutes and did well and must be happy with things.”
Possibility of Sakho starting on Saturday: “He could do. We have three more days but he’ll be certainly be very much in contention because he’s a quality centre-back.”
Pape Souare: “I was concerned about him in the first five or 10 minutes because he was struggling a little with the pace and the intensity, but he got through that and made two very important challenges coming from left-back into the centre.
“You’ve got to be cautious and patient with him so that he comes back as the player he was before the horrific accident. It was a risk to play him in a game like this against a physically powerful team, but I threw him in at the deep end today and he came out swimming, which is as much as you can ask for.”