Patience and progress pleases Grant

Avram Grant hailed his players' professionalism in getting the job done and advancing to the third round of the Carling Cup.

Tuesday night's 1-0 home win against Oxford United was anything but straightforward with the League Two newcomers holding their own, defending well in numbers and offering the occasional threat going forward. Patience was the order of the day with Scott Parker's last-gasp goal coming deep into added time, to send the 20,000-odd fans home on a high.

"When you play at home against a team that are not from your league, it is obvious that they will defend and we needed to score an early goal," the manager said.

"They defended very well and worked like a team. They helped each other. It was not easy to find a way through. I was very impressed and tactically they played very well.

"I liked it that my players continued to pass the ball and waited for the opportunity. They didn't go crazy to score. At the end of the day, we found it. We are in the next round and this is what is important."

New recruit Freddie Piquionne was involved in Parker's goal, with good work as well from substitute Benni McCarthy, working his way back to fitness. Their key contribution, as part of a side featuring five Academy players and the 23-year-old Pablo Barrera, underlined that this is very much a team in development under the new manager. He said all would be better for the experience.

"Mentally it is not just about the first win, it is that we did it in the last moment. The players were fighting against relegation last year so there is some psychology problems and we need to adapt also to the way we play football. We are developing. Of course it will take time and be step by step but the main thing is to progress."

The chances were there in the opening stages to have made it a more comfortable night but Oxford also showed intent - a fact emphasised by the man of the match award given to debutant Stech as Robert Green was rested for the first time in two years.

"Marek is a good talent," added Grant of the former youth-team shot-stopper who stood in the visitors' way when they did venture forward. "But is not just him, we played today with five players from the Academy. I think that is unusual but we will continue to do this."

With young talent is a requirement for older heads to steady things, summed up by stand-in captain Parker's poise under pressure which rightly earned high praise from the manager. "He is very important. First he is a very good player, second he is always fighting,. He always gives everything and he is clever. His passing is very good.

"We know what we want in the next seasons and we want to develop young players but also we need experienced players that are very positive. Scott is very important for us because he is a good influence on the others."

More help would appear to be on the way with the manager determined to make the squad stronger as well as fill some gaps in key areas. It remains to be seen whether signing number six or even seven for the summer will be in place by Saturday but regardless the manager is not worried about heading up to Manchester United.

"They are a very good team. It is a good challenge for us. One of the things I want to see in this team is that, everywhere we go, we try to play football and fight to take points. I know it is not easy at Old Trafford but we will try to do it ."

Before then will, of course, come extra work on the training pitch, with particular emphasis on shooting practice, while the likes of Green, Matthew Upson, Kieron Dyer and late substitute Carlton Cole will also be back in contention . "We need to work on our finishing. We need to be calmer in the box as against Bolton [last Saturday] we also created a lot of chances and didn't score.

"[Against Oxford] the players kept pushing, we kept our shape and we moved the ball. We tried to find the opportunity until the last minute and I was very pleased we did."

• The draw for the Carling Cup third round will be held on Saturday lunchtime. will have all the news and reaction as soon as it takes place.