Sam Allardyce credits Dimitar Berbatov and Mark Schwarzer after Fulham beat Stoke 1-0
Sam Allardyce credits Dimitar Berbatov and Mark Schwarzer after Fulham edged Stoke 1-0.
Last Updated: 23/02/13 3:48pm
The headlines will go to Fulham striker Berbatov, who produced a sublime volley that ultimately proved enough to edge Martin Jol's hosts to victory - but Schwarzer's role was equally important as he saved a Jonathan Walters penalty.
The veteran Australian goalkeeper 40, also denied Peter Crouch in a one-on-one after some hesitant defending from Philippe Senderos, and West Ham boss Allardyce was quick to highlight the importance of Fulham's victory.
He said: "At this stage of the season, when you play at home and you win it's a big relief. I think three points is massive for them. At the other end, Tony Pulis will be gutted he hasn't got a point from it.
"It was a brilliant goal from Dimitar Berbatov and then the two saves from Mark Schwarzer won the game. This is the outstanding quality you want in a side - someone who can score a goal out of nothing. It was a great move down the right hand side.
"The timing of the strike made it look effortless. He didn't slash at it. He just used timing to strike the ball perfectly well and it's almost past the goalkeeper before he can move, right in the top corner.
"It was a fantastic time to score, just before half-time and then the change of tactics from Stoke yielded two very good chances at the start of the second half. The first to Peter Crouch and then the penalty."
Having gone into the half-time dressing room a goal behind, Pulis rejigged his side in an attempt to produce an equaliser and will be left frustrated having created the requisite chances to do so.
Allardyce added: "I think Tony looked at the situation and realised he'd lost the last three games away from home and tried to get a clean sheet first and foremost. Once they went 1-0 down, you could sense he was going to change tactics.
"They created the chances they needed to get back in the game, so he's done his job as a manager. He made the substitutions but didn't get the goal. It's always really disappointing when you miss a penalty."
On Lee Probert's decision to award a spot-kick for a handball by Ashkan Dejagah, Allardyce added: "When you put your arms up like that, the referee is always going to give a penalty. You can see why he gave it. It's alright saying 'protect your face' but I think you've got to be brave enough to take it in the face.
"The goalkeepers look at a lot of footage. Schwarzer takes the chance he's going to go that side and Walters didn't quite hit it cleanly. It came off the right-hand side of his heel. He loses pace off it. It's still a very good save.
"Penalty taking for a player is a lot more difficult these days because they'll favour one side or the other and there's so much footage available.
"With the Crouch chance, Schwarzer stood up well and didn't over-commit to get the block. He's got the defenders out of trouble - particularly Philippe Senderos, who was waiting for him.
"I remember all the way back to Bradford days when he started before he went off to Middlesbrough. I think goalkeepers are carrying on until later in their careers these days and he's still doing a great job."
There were some unsavoury incidents on the pitch during a fiery encounter, with Steven Nzonzi lashing out at Bryan Ruiz and Robert Huth appearing to aim an elbow at Senderos at a corner.
On the Huth incident, Allardyce said: "It's not legitimate. I think it's because he thinks Senderos is going to block him. It's very dangerous to lift your arm into anyone's face and it could easily have been a red card.
"We saw in the first half that Steven Nzonzi was lucky too. He was fortunate in that instance to say on the pitch. He's done it intentionally - it's not an accident. Really, that one should have been a straight red."