Fulham eased into the third round of the Carabao Cup with a routine 2-0 victory over League Two visitors Exeter that came after they changed their entire starting XI.
Aboubakar Kamara scored shortly after kick-off and then early in the second half to give Fulham a comfortable lead, as they appeared to lose little of the momentum that came with Sunday’s Premier League victory over Burnley.
Manager Slavisa Jokanovic chose to overhaul the team that won 4-2 against Burnley to secure their first Premier League points of the season; even Aleksandar Mitrovic, who had scored three goals in their past two games, was dropped to the substitutes’ bench.
Such had been the investment in Jokanovic’s squad throughout the course of the summer transfer window — in excess of £100million — that much of the XI that was among the finest in last season’s Championship could spend many of the coming months featuring in little more than cup competitions.
If it is unusual for a newly-promoted team to have the resources to convincingly compete beyond their league campaign, Jokanovic’s may yet do exactly that. He handed debuts to summer signings Sergio Rico and Alfie Mawson, and also recalled Calum Chambers and Ryan Sessegnon, when all four could yet start on Saturday at Brighton.
Their visitors also gave debuts to Jimmy Oates and Dara O’Shea, having similarly changed the team that on Saturday lost 1-0 at MK Dons, and as early as the fourth minute were made aware of the task that confronted them when they fell behind.
Fulham had already threatened, through Rui Fonte shooting narrowly over the crossbar from the edge of the area, when Kamara gave them the lead.
Cyrus Christie powerfully struck at goal, and when Christy Pym could only parry into Kamara’s path, the forward produced an uncomplicated, close-range finish into the near-open goal.
Sessegnon then sent a low drive from 25 yards narrowly wide of the far right post, but when the hosts appeared capable of swiftly building a significant lead Exeter reminded them of their presence when Matt Jay beat goalkeeper Rico when striking the left post after a promising attack on the counter.
It was three minutes into the second half when the second goal Kamara deserved came his way. Stefan Johansen, named captain for his first start of the season, split the visitors’ defence with a fine pass that gifted the striker time and space from in front of goal, which he used to finish comfortably and low to Pym’s left.
They came close to a third shortly after the hour mark, through Fonte. From the left wing Sessegnon sent a low cross to the spot in front of goal from where the striker struck first time to force a fine reaction save from Pym.
Fulham remained comfortable thereafter, encouraging Jokanovic to replace Mawson with Steven Sessegnon with 15 minutes remaining. The third goal they sought again eluded them in the final minutes when Pym tipped Johansen’s curling free-kick onto the post.