Thank heavens we don't have to watch Stoke play more than twice a season. This wasn't pretty. Fulham always looked to be in the driving seat and coped remarkably well with the physical aspects of the game (though we did lose three players to injury) but we failed to kill the game off with a second goal and Stoke remained a danger to the end.
The solitary goal was a moment of beauty and worth the entrance fee on its own. Nevland, on for Zamora after a mere twenty minutes, collected a clearance deep in our own half and set off on a charge up field. He almost lost the ball on the half way line, but fought to retain possession before sending a pass out to AJ on the right wing. Eric continued his run into the box where he was perfectly placed to fire home AJ's excellent cross. Fast, efficient, counter attacking football.
Johnson didn't play any further part in the game, limping off shortly after the restart to be replaced by Diomansey Kamara. Kind of strange that we've been so lucky this season to avoid any major injuries to our starting eleven and then lose both starting strikers in the same half. Despite this we almost put the game to bed before the turn as Murphy and Konchesky combined with a neat training ground free kick and Dickson Etuhu somehow scooped the ball over the bar from six inches.
I'm struggling to remember anything of significance from the second half other than a few moments of comedy from John Paintsil. At one point he executed a neat turn to shrug off the attentions of a Stoke midfielder, looked up to see few options and sent the ball straight into the enclosure. Konchesky limped off late on to add to our injury concerns. Gera deserves a mention providing a very adequate replacement for Simon Davies. Whilst he didn't quite find a way through the Stoke defence he tried as hard as anyone. Referee Lee Mason also made an impression as the most pedantic ref I've seen this season and did his best to interupt the flow of an already slow paced game.
Fulham: Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky (Baird 82), Dempsey, Murphy, Etuhu, Gera, Zamora (Nevland 20), Johnson (Kamara 34).
Subs Not Used: Zuberbuhler, Dacourt, Gray, Stoor.
Goals: Nevland 29.
Stoke: Sorensen, Kelly (Sonko 83), Shawcross, Abdoulaye Faye, Pugh (Dickinson 87), Lawrence, Whelan, Delap, Etherington, Fuller, Cresswell (Camara 83).
Subs Not Used: Simonsen, Olofinjana, Cort, Tonge.
Booked: Lawrence, Shawcross.
Ref: Lee Mason (Lancashire)
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