Stoke City 3 Fulham 2: match report
Throughout Tuesday, Stoke City had hunkered down in the eye of the storm. Evening arrived and the forecasted snow finally fell, but the storm which broke was physical not metaphorical although Clint Dempsey came close to ensuring otherwise. Tony Pulis asked for luck to improve his side's lamentable form; he needed Tuncay. The Turkish forward came off injured, but 40 minutes was all he needed to tear Fulham apart. Damien Duff and Dempsey struck in the second half, but Stoke have their first league win since November. For those home fans who faced a tough journey home, it made it all worthwhile. Related ArticlesPremier League tablePremier League actionTelegraph player raterPremier League fixturesTransfer TalkSport on televisionNo one had missed the irony that amid all of the postponements, the Britannia, generally agreed to be the coldest stadium in the country, remained clear of the blizzard. But they are used to Siberian conditions here. Chilly even in August, they have had the heating on for two weeks, the groundstaff wisely cranking the pitch temperature up to 14.5 degrees (so we were told). It was the sort of day that turns everyone into amateur meteorologists, and Roy Hodgson was no different. The Fulham manager had appeared for a pre-game pitch inspection, cast an unamused eye over the scene, and disappeared to the dressing room looking unhappy. The Britannia is unpleasant for the opposition at the best of times; in a snow storm it really sucks. Someone lobbed a snowball into the Fulham technical area, as if to really hammer home the point. The reason for that is because Stoke have only been beaten by Chelsea, Manchester United and Birmingham City at home this season. But their impressive home record has been offset by their meagre returns in front of goal going into this game: 15 goals in 19 games, with only two in the last six, both of scored nearly a month ago. A worrying statistic for Pulis to ponder. Tuncay changed all that. Much has been made of Stoke's reluctance to try something other than moon-balls, but in Tuncay they have another angle. It was the Turk who led the charge down the other end after Danny Murphy had come close with a free-kick, winning himself a corner in the process. The delivery arrived at Robert Huth, who headed wide, but Tuncay was well placed at the far post, sidestepping Paul Konchesky to head in from close range. It was just not Konchesky's day. The defender was responsible for Stoke's second, his body-check on Liam Lawrence which directly led to the goal stupid for two reasons, first because it was so obvious, and second as it was totally unnecessary.Etherington's free-kick found Abdoulaye Faye at the far post. You would've thought Fulham might have learned. If the first two had been direct, Stoke's third was rather more fancy, Tuncay again the architect. Screaming away from his own half to the edge of the Fulham area, the former Middlesbrough striker laid it back to Etherington to cross. Danny Higginbotham headed across goal, and Mamady Sidibe beat Brede Hangeland to volley in. It was not until the 61st minute that Fulham had cause for hope, Damian Duff's shot deflecting nastily off Ryan Shawcross. Dempsey, on for Bobby Zamora, looped a shot over Steve Simonsen after 85 minutes, sending Stoke heart-rates spiralling, but it was too late. For the 150 away supporters who negotiated snow drifts on their journey from London, it was cruel. They are truly gluttons for punishment. One hundred and sixty miles, and all to watch their side's heaviest defeat of the season so far. Brutal.
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