STOKE CITY FC 0 FULHAM 2
So some records were broken against Blackburn,and we turned up at The Brit full of festive cheer and optimism.Last home match defeat against Blackpool a distant memory,a match we could have won 6 - 1 on chances.That would not ,could not happen again.
With Stoke though,as we have learned the hard way from the distant past,you can take nothing for granted.We should dismiss at our peril any team which looks to be a pushover,having a dismal run of form,whatever.Fulham duly arrived,this foggy damp afternoon,unable to buy a win, manager Hughes' job under threat, and not having won away from home since the first game of LAST season.
Within 3 minutes the visitors were a goal up,two up in 10 minutes.For the remainder of the game they offered no attacking threat,and despite Stoke's somewhat disjointed forward threat against a poor defence, held together by the magnificent Hangerland,we could have played for the rest of the day and never scored.
The first goal,Baird's first for the club, initially looked as though there might have been an element of keeper error.In fact it was such a cracking shot that Begovic had no chance,the ball striking the inside of the post on its way into the net.The second goal by Baird again, from a freekick on the edge of the box, found the bottom corner of the Stoke net going just beyond Begovic's dive.The shot was straight and true,passing the point in the defensive wall where Walters had been standing,until he ran out to challenge the kick!
For me there was a similarity between the Blackpool and Fulham games.Both teams had midfields offering more creativity than ours.Tony Pulis is a canny operator.I wonder if one of his transfer window priorities will be to strengthen in that department?