Whelan kept his place in the Stoke midfield after his fine performance at Newcastle,maybe also with a view to unpicking Fulham's tight defence,which recently achieved goalless draws away at Liverpool and Villa.Ref Atwell is the guy who gave an imaginary goal earlier this season in the Championship at Watford.
Stoke's gameplan was disrupted as early as the 2nd minute when Sidibe landed awkwardly,sustaining leg injury.He was eventually stretchered off to be replaced by Cresswell.
On 18 minutes Higginbotham had a stroke of good luck.He definitely handled a cross from the right.Incredibly the ref, who was no great distance away did not award a penalty,seeming to indicate that he thought the ball had been headed away to safety.At the very first opportunity of a long throw into the box it was obvious that Delap was in some pain as the ball travelled less than 20yards.Sonko took over long throw duties, to good effect a couple of minutes later when Schwarzer turned away a throw from the right with some difficulty.Fulham were being given too much time on the ball and dictating the pace of the game, with Stoke failing to push up, conceding too much space in the midfield. Stoke unable to string passes together, not keeping the ball at all well.
On 40 mins Stoke had their best chance of the match. A Sonko throw was cleared to Davies but his break out stopped by Wilkinson.The ball was returned to the Fulham half where clever interplay between Fuller and Cresswell saw Cresswell put the ball over the bar from 8 yards out as he aimed to curl the ball into the top right corner of the net.He should really have scored.
The second half started with the visitors first shot on goal from Bullard.Already booked Fuller tussled with Pantsil,and you feared the worst as the Jamaican got up and the two players went head to head. Pantsil fell theatrically.Fuller got a real talking to from Captain Abdoulaye Faye after the ref 's generous chat to the striker rather than a sending off.On 60 mins Gera's strike was charged down by Higginbotham. Delap,understandably somewhat off the pace throughout was replaced by Tongue.A Bullard freekick was cleared by Wilkinson but immediately Fulham created their best chance, with Dempsey's shot being deflected over the Stoke bar from Bullard's corner. Vincent Pericard came on for Pugh, but Murphy and Bullard continued to boss the game .
With 8 minutes to go Fuller chased onto Whelan's pass going down under challenge in the penalty area....too easily it would seem for Mr. Atwell's liking ..... no penalty.