The brightest thing about this game were Fulham's new Yellow away shirts. It was a familiar story the Whites managing lots of possession but unable to find that spark of ingenuity or quality finish to claim a goal.
I managed to catch the second half thanks to the wonder of the Internet. First half talking points had been a possible (but not cast iron) penalty claim after Andy Johnson took a tumble in the box. That was swiftly followed by a much stronger shout following a blatant handball as a Stoke defender tried to reach a cross from our right flank. Stoke lost centre forward Sidibe to an early injury and were also unable to fully utilise the threat of the Delap long throw thanks to an arm injury. Who would have though an arm could ever be an impediment to an outfield player's effectiveness.
The second 45 got off to a feisty start after a clumsy challenge from Ricardo Fuller on John Paintsil led to the players squaring up. Fuller pushed his head into Paintsil who did himself no favours by exaggerating the impact and earned the wrath of the Stoke fans for the remainder of the game. Despite this Paintsil played well down the right wing, linking up with a refreshed and newly positioned Gera whilst Simon Davies continued to suffer the consequences of being versatile on the left wing. Oddly our best chance of the half came was created by a moment of class from Gera on the left side. Davies took a quick throw in to Gera who had tracked over from the far side to find a bit of space. Gera looked certain to cross but then played a delightful ball into the path of Andy Johnson. AJ sprinted into the box before cutting the ball back to Dempsey who saw his shot pushed wide for a corner.
Chances were few and far between for either side. Hangeland looked his normal imperious self, soaking up everything Stoke threw at us. A ball from midfield gave AJ something to chase but his shot was well blocked. Ricardo Fuller went down in the box as Danny Murphy shepherded him away from goal. A moment of concern, but the ref waved play on, Fuller went down easily and had probably marked his card after the earlier spat with Paintsil but I've seen them given. Then another heart stopper as Fuller found space on the left and played a ball across the six yard box where Cresswell was waiting. Thankfully the ball again ricocheted away to safety. The final chance of the game fell to Dempsey who saw his shot to the top right hand corner drift harmlessly wide of the post. Soon after the game drifted equally harmlessly to a close. Another point away from home, another clean sheet, six games unbeaten and our first point claimed so far from promoted opposition. Some positives to take but this was a dull game and another missed opportunity.
Oh Bobby Zamora
2 days ago