Scott Parker says Harry Arter’s stunning winner for Fulham in Saturday’s FA Cup tie against Aston Villa was a perfect reward for his battle to recover fitness in recent months.
The midfielder, on loan for the season from Bournemouth, had a red card early in the season and was then sidelined through injury, but the Whites' boss believes this could be a turning point for the player – whose 74th minute strike from outside the box was worthy of settling any tie.
“Both goals were pretty special,” Parker said when asked to compare Arter’s with an equally stunning first goal in the game from Anthony Knockaert.
“I think for the moment, and what it was, it was probably Harry’s goal that shaded it.
“Harry’s been out for three months. He’s worked hard. They are long and lonely days when you’re injured for some time. The physios have worked hard with him as well.
“You probably doubt what you have, so to come on and score the winner probably justifies everything, and those days when you are a bit lonely.
“It was a great finish and I’m pleased for him. It was a good moment. He’s a character and it’s moments like this for Harry and the team which you need to build on.”
Parker said of his other goal hero: “Anthony could have had a hat-trick. He scored a great goal and could have finished off another couple.
“Fair play to him. We brought him in and he’s got off to a slowish start – I think he’d be the first to admit that – but the last three games, I think you’re seeing a Knockaert we are all familiar with really.
“Today we saw glimpses of him with the ball but I thought out of possession as well, he was exceptional.”
Parker gave debuts to defender Michael Hector and 17-year-old Jay Stansfield, whose impessive cameo off the bench almost included an assist.
“He’s been scoring goals in the under 18s, he’s been training with us for the last week, 10 days and he’s obviously someone we have full belief in,” Parker enthused.
“They give you something different these young players and it’s something I firmly believe in. There will be many more appearances from Jay and he deserves his moment tonight.”