For photos from the match, scroll to ‘Photostream’ above left, while click on the statistics tab for the match stats. Manager reaction to follow
Charlie Adam netted the winner for a second successive Britannia Stadium fixture as Stoke City beat Fulham 1-0 to extend their good run of Barclays Premier League home form. The impressive Adam turned and finished from close range in the 26th minute to register his second goal as a Stoke player.
His first was the decisive strike in the previous home match, the 1-0 win over QPR on November 10, and Stoke are unbeaten in 13 games on their own turf in the league stretching back to February.
Tony Pulis’ side, who were the better team overall and nearly had another goal when Ryan Shawcross headed against the bar, have three victories to their name this season and are up to 11th in the table on 16 points. Fulham, meanwhile, stay ninth and are now winless in their last five games.
In driving rain, it was the visitors who made the brighter start, with Giorgos Karagounis lashing an effort across goal and wide after two minutes. There was a shaky moment soon after for Stoke as goalkeeper Asmir Begovic misread a back-pass but the ball was cleared away and the home side began to settle down.
Robert Huth headed wide from Matthew Etherington’s corner on the quarter hour-mark and Stoke continued to pressure, with Adam sending the ball over after juggling it in the area. Moments later the Scotland midfielder scored, taking one touch in the six-yard box, when Peter Crouch headed Ryan Shotton’s cross his way, before swivelling and firing the ball in.
The hosts kept up the momentum as Glenn Whelan tried his luck from the edge of the area, drilling wide, and Shawcross almost made it 2-0 in the 36th minute when he clattered a header against the bar. Fulham immediately broke forward, with Mladen Petric coming to meet a cross into the box but was unable to finish and Dimitar Berbatov then saw a delivery into the danger zone scrambled away.
Stoke looked eager to wrap things up as the second half got under way and seconds after the restart Whelan scooped an effort over from Jon Walters’ tee-up. Their opponents also had chances: Karagounis ballooned over and Steve Sidwell dived to connect with an Ashkan Dejagah cross, only for the ball to skim harmlessly off his head.
There was a scare for Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, who dropped a high ball but smothered it before anyone could pounce. Adam saw an effort deflect wide and Schwarzer tipped away a header by Huth from an Etherington corner, before Shawcross nodded off target.
Fulham survived a scramble in the area after a Schwarzer punch and went close as Berbatov’s drive was tipped away by Begovic. Pulis brought on Michael Kightly, who struck over. Kenwyne Jones, another Stoke substitute, thought he had doubled his side’s lead in the dying moments but was flagged offside.
Stoke City manager Tony Pulis: "There were some great opportunities and in the second half we had more. Then in the last few minutes, you are starting to scramble.
"We had so many chances and you get a little bit uptight because you know one mistake could have cost us the game - a game that we should have been out of sight in.
"We have just asked Charlie to follow Peter around - to get closer to Crouchy, because we think he has real ability and we want him to do it in the final third of the pitch rather than the other two thirds.
"For a while he has just been Charlie, playing his own game. He is like a schoolboy at times - he just goes out there and loves the game of football. But we are pretty structured, organised and disciplined, and we need him up around Peter. If he gets up there enough, Crouchy does fantastically for us and Charlie will get the opportunities to score some goals this season."
Fulham manager Martin Jol: “In the first half we couldn’t get out of our half. We wanted to play but it was difficult. Then you get the long balls and they eat you up. They close you down, they pressurise you with their style and it’s not easy for us. They were the better team first half.
"The goal was a long ball, a flick-on, we didn’t track the runner and they scored an easy goal. We did better in the second half but it’s disappointing because normally we score goals, even away from home, but we couldn’t do that today.
“You have to get them on the back foot and play your football in their half. We did that in the second half but we needed lot of forward players to try and do that. It was disappointing that we still couldn’t score. You can’t let them force their style on you but that is what we let them do in the first half. I admire Stoke for their style. It’s not my style but it’s a style. Even Charlie Adam looked bigger than last year!”
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