Pulis pleased by Crouch impact
Stoke boss Tony Pulis was pleased by Peter Crouch's contribution to Saturday's 2-0 win over Fulham, despite his failure to hit the net. Crouch twice squandered opportunities that came his way in the first half at the Britannia Stadium, scuffing an attempted volley from Jermaine Pennant's cross and then seeing his shot blocked when the ball broke to him in the box six minutes later. The 30-year-old, who has not played for England in almost a year, had been quoted earlier in the week as saying that he did not "carry much hope" in terms of his future international prospects, even though Wayne Rooney will be suspended for the start of Euro 2012. Pulis feels Crouch is far from finished for the Three Lions, though, and defended his performance against the Cottagers. Asked if he had been disappointed that the tall frontman had not made more of his chances, Pulis said: "No, not really. "Peter will score goals, he led the line really well and the longer the game went on, the more opportunities and chances we created. "It is not just what he does with the ball or with the ball around him. "It is the affect he has on the rest of the team, and he also has a tremendous affect on the opposition." He added: "The big thing with (Stoke's wingers) Matt (Etherington) and Jermaine (Pennant) if we are playing at our place is that with Peter up front, he attracts a lot of defenders around him, leaving more space wide." Stoke were able to exert increasing pressure on their opponents as the game wore on, and it eventually paid off towards the end. The hosts hit the post through Rory Delap and shortly after seeing their own crossbar rattled by John Arne Riise - the only real moment where Fulham threatened in the second half - Jon Walters broke the deadlock, diverting Etherington's effort home in the 80th minute. Delap then doubled their advantage seven minutes later, nodding in an Etherington free-kick. Cottagers goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer was disappointed the London outfit could not see out the job of keeping Stoke at bay. "It was a hugely frustrating afternoon for us and it was a day to forget in many ways," Schwarzer told Fulham's official website. "The hardest thing to take was the fact that for the majority of the match we dealt with everything they threw at us. "We gave away a couple of silly free-kicks and they punished us. That is unlike us and as a result it is very difficult to take. "But we're a strong group and now we have to go away and learn from that. Losing games always hurts and if we didn't feel that way then we're in the wrong job. "We have to take the positives too because at times we did play well, particularly in the first 45 minutes." Schwarzer had a couple of uncomfortable moments dealing with high balls into the area, but his manager Martin Jol had no complaints about the Australian stopper's efforts. "I don't think they were mistakes - have a good look again," Jol said. "I think it was more about pressure. Stoke put you under pressure physically, so if you come to get on the end of a ball, then you have to be strong. "He (Schwarzer) is a strong guy, but he needs the help of the referee sometimes."
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