STOKE CITY FC 1 FULHAM 0
Even if only for 24hours Stoke moved up to a respectable mid table 11th place in the Premiership,with 16 points from 13 games,and 0 goal difference. For the second home game running Charlie Adam notched the crucial goal,bringing us all three points.
Fulham had more of the possession overall,but - the last ten minutes or so apart – they did not do as much with it as Stoke. Our team managed a threat down both wings. On the left Etherington continues to progress,looking more like the player we had two years ago. He is beginning to take his man on in a way that leaves you feeling that he might have some joy. The confidence is returning. Down the right,surprisingly you might say, we possessed an even more potent threat. Not from Jon Walters,but rather from his fullback partner Ryan Shotton.
Ryan Shotton showed a real appetite for overlapping,much as he did in some of our Euro matches last year. He was responsible for a number of dangerous crosses into the Fulham goalmouth. On 26 minutes,prompted by Walters and N'Zonzi,he took the ball behind the Fulham defensive line before crossing a wicked curling ball.It reached Crouch, as ever, closely marked by two defenders, on the edge of the visitors six yard box. Our ex-England man headed the ball down to Adam,more centrally placed,who controlled the ball before swivelling to hit the ball crisply past Schwarzer into the net.
Numerous chances came our way ...and went! Huth had two near miss headers. Shawcross, looking more dangerous than he has for a while at the attacking end of the pitch, followed a header wide with another that crashed against the crossbar but came out to safety. Whelan,who for me had a fine all round game,had two near misses,one past the post,the other narrowly over the bar. Late on sub Kenwyne Jones was put clear,netted expertly,but was adjudged offside,narrowly it seemed.
Stoke looked nervous in the closing minutes, and allowed Fulham to come onto them,but fortunately did not concede.
Asmir Begovic earned his corn, especially when making a fine save from dangerman Berbatov's powerful on target cross shot.
An excellent team performance from Stoke with Fulham very much second best.