Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Saturday January 22 2011
Fulham eased any relegation fears with a solid 2-0 win over a robust Stoke City side.
Mark Hughes stuck with the core that has started recent matches. Stockdale continued to deputise for Schwarzer who continues to play for Australia in the Asian Cup. Moussa Dembele started up front, at the expense of Davies who dropped to the bench with Clint Dempsey dropping back into midfield. Andrew Johnson, after his goal last week, started with Diomansy Kamara dropping to the bench. Steve Sidwell, again, had to be content with a place on the bench. For Stoke, new loan signing John Carew, despite being the highest earner in Stoke`s history, only got a place on the bench.
Interestingly, Tony Pulis and Mark Hughes buried the hatchet and shook hands before the game started.
Stoke had an early chance to score when Matthew Etherington guided a free kick to the head of Ryan Shawcross who saw his header just the wrong side of the post. Fulham responded well and when Damien Duff cut inside Delap his twenty-five yard shot crashed off the cross bar with Asmir Begovic beaten.
Pushing forward, Murphy drilled a free kick just wide of the post whilst David Stockdale had to be alert to save from Tuncay after the striker had latched on to a ball from Delap.
Duff was proving to be an inspiration, skipping past Collins and forcing a great save from the keeper whilst Stoke responded with a screamer from Jones that hit the inside of the post and came out, with Stockdale beaten.
Fulham then took the lead when Andrew Johnson collected a ball from John Pantsil, performed wonders getting behind the Stoke defence before setting up Clint Dempsey to drive the ball home with thirty-three minutes having been played.
As half time approached it was Fulham on top with Duff and Johnson troubling Stoke almost at will prompted by the superb Murphy pulling the midfield strings.
Half Time - Fulham 1 Stoke 0
The second half started with Fulham not taking too long to double the lead, the goal coming with fifty-six minutes played when Clint Dempsey scored from the spot, the penalty being awarded after Ryan Shawcross had received a red card for hauling down Dempsey after a splendid turn.
Down to ten-men, Stoke were always going to struggle to get back from a two goal deficit. Fulham introduced Steve Sidwell for his debut; Johnson saw an effort saved by Begovic as that third goal was sought but wasn`t forthcoming.
Date:Saturday January 22 2011
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