sábado, 15 de octubre de 2011

Stoke City 2 - 0 Fulham

Jon Walters was the first to take advantage of some shoddy Fulham defending on 80 minutes, popping up to knock in a deflected Matthew Etherington shot when Mark Schwarzer should have perhaps claimed the original cross.

Stoke's second came just six minutes after later. Chris Baird needlessly chopped down Rory Delap near the corner flag. Etherington then whipped in a decent cross which was made to look brilliant when neither Schwarzer nor his defence saw fit to try and deal with it. Delap was left with a free header and he made no mistake in doubling the Potters' lead.

The home side were good value for their win, but Fulham will no doubt be annoyed with the way they unravelled as the second half progressed and their undoing seemed to be a series of unnecessary fouls and Schwarzer's sudden loss of confidence.

The Fulham stopper had dealt comfortably with Delap's long throws until the 65th minute when he turned what looked like an easy take into a huge goalmouth scramble. After letting the ball slip through his graps, he almost palmed the ball into his own net. Baird cleared off the line but Schwarzer never looked at ease again and began flapping at almost every set piece which came his way, which perhaps explains his decision to stay on his line for the two crosses which led to the Stoke goals.

Meanwhile, his teammates were clocking up the bookings, running up three in total while also conceding 14 freekicks. Stoke were worse, managing four yellow cards and 15 fouls, but the home side never lost their heads in the manner in which Fulham did and that proved crucial.

The high-tempo finish was a far cry from a first half in which neither keeper was forced to make a save. Jermaine Pennant almost injected a little bit of class into things towards the end of the opening 45 minutes when he bamboozled the defence, charged into the box, exchanged a lovely one-two with Peter Crouch before dragging his shot wide when he should have blasted home.

Fulham on the other hand toiled for 90 minutes and failed to draw Amir Begovic into a meaningful save. John Anre Riise did fire a freekick against the bar shortly after Stoke's opener, but that was their only real chance of the game.

The match may not have been a classic, but that won't bother Stoke who now have a respectable 12 points from eight games.

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