Stoke comfortably eased past fellow Premiership travellers Fulham at The Brit in front of a very respectable 12,778 fans.It is surely a sign of the times and the strength of the squad that Tony Pulis was able to make SEVEN changes to Mark Hughes ONE to the teams fielded for last Saturday's league matches.
Among the pleasant surprises was the situation with regard to two of the three players apparently seriously injured against West Ham.Kenwyne Jones was fit to play with Jon Walters on the bench. Tuncay came into the team on the left side with Matty Etherington switching to the right.Ricardo Fuller partnered Jones. It was interesting to see Salif Diao reappear in midfield.
A goal in each half saw off the Fulham challenge.On 23 minutes Etherington's pacey corner from the right seemed to clear everyone bar Higginbotham whose powerful header from 6 yards out found the net to set us on our way.On 67 minutes Delap came on for Diao who had had an excellent game,outshining midfield partner Whelan,who,it has to be said,was again looking somewhat out of sorts and off the pace in the first half (though much improved in the second).With 12 minutes to go,and with Fulham just having mounted a late challenge,Kenwyne Jones met a Delap long throw to head in,his third goal in three consecutive matches,to put Stoke through.
With 7 minutes to go Tuncay was replaced by Pugh.The Turk had certainly made his mark with a busy performance. It remains to be seen whether this will bring him into contention for Sunday's match at Newcastle United,if Pennant is not over his hamstring strain.
Our first clean sheet of the season,a remodelled back four of Wilkinson,Shawcross,Huth, and Higginbotham that looked solid (not putting a foot wrong until Wilko's rash heavy challenge on Dembele in added on time.Yellow card but he was lucky not to get sent off.) Some pleasing attractive football from The Potters at times,and much the best side on the night.
Begovic, Huth, Wilkinson, Higginbotham, Shawcross, Whelan, Tuncay (Pugh, 83 ) , Etherington, Diao (Delap, 68 ) , Fuller (Walters, 75 ) , Jones
Subs not used: Tonge,Gudjohnsen,Soares,Sorensen,