Stoke punish sloppy Fulham
Stoke punished a sloppy defensive display from Fulham to earn a 2-0 win in their Carling Cup clash.
By Danny Wright
Last Updated: 21/09/10 10:27pm
Stoke punished a sloppy defensive display from Fulham to earn a routine 2-0 win in their third round Carling Cup clash at the Britannia Stadium.
The hosts went in front when defender Danny Higginbotham nodded home unmarked from six yards in the 23rd minute from Matthew Etherington's centre to capitalise on the visitors' pedestrian defending.
Etherington and Cottagers captain Danny Murphy were both lucky to still be on the pitch prior to the goal after the Stoke winger hauled down Moussa Dembele to spark a minor fracas, with Murphy throwing the ball at his opponent.
Referee Mark Hasley booked both players and Fulham established themselves as the better side. The Londoners enjoyed plenty of pressure in the opening period with Zoltan Gera flashing over but openings were at a premium as Mark Hughes' team searched for a leveller.
Fulham continued to impress in possession as Dembele went perilously close but Tony Pulis' team made sure of their passage as a trademark Rory Delap throw allowed Kenwyne Jones to out-jump the defence to make it 2-0 in the 79th minute.
Stoke made the more positive start and after Tuncay Sanli had won a free-kick in a useful position but blazed it over, his strike partner Ricardo Fuller saw his header palmed around the post by Mark Schwarzer.
Brede Hangeland sent a header goalwards at the other end but could not trouble goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, who was making his first appearance of the season having been left out of the Potters squad to face Shrewsbury in the previous round after he reportedly refused to play.
Moments later Stoke went in front thanks to the head of Higginbotham, who made the perfect connection with Etherington's corner by crashing the ball across Schwarzer and in.
The hosts were good value for their lead with Tuncay, in the team for Jon Walters, looking particularly lively.
The Turkey international fired an acrobatic effort from outside the box which Schwarzer was equal to and Etherington also tried something spectacular soon after, slipping as he hit a shot from distance that went over the crossbar.
Fulham won the ball back and Clint Dempsey teed up Zoltan Gera, who drove powerfully at Begovic. Dempsey then saw his free-kick deflect over off the Stoke wall and scuffed a shot into Begovic's arms.
Jones almost scored within seconds of the restart as Stoke surged forward, but the Trinidadian's effort flew wide. Play switched and Carlos Salcido sent an effort off-target before the hosts survived a real scare.
It was Stoke who came closest next, Glenn Whelan receiving Tuncay's free-kick and unleashing a drive that whistled just over. The Potters were sloppy in the box again soon after though, with Dempsey almost capitalising but unable to guide the ball beyond Begovic.
Fulham were suddenly looking the more incisive outfit and Stoke did just about enough to put Johnson off as he fired an effort wide. Dembele then sent a fierce effort the wrong side of the post and was involved again moments later in a move that resulted in Dickson Etuhu heading over.
By this stage, though, the Potters had Delap, a 68th minute replacement for Salif Diao, on the field, and it did not take long for him to make the desired impact. A little over 10 minutes after coming on, Delap launched a trademark long throw into the Fulham box and Jones beat Schwarzer to head it home.Gera curled a shot wide and Stoke fans cried out for a penalty when Andy Wilkinson was tackled late on. Substitute Danny Pugh had a shot saved late on, but the hosts had done enough and their place in last 16 was confirmed as Halsey blew for full-time.
|Team Name||Stoke City||Fulham|
|Shots On Target||5||3|
|Shots Off Target||7||10|