Fulham 2-1 Stoke

These wins aren’t to be underestimated.  Stoke are a handful and we rarely thrive against them, but today, despite withstanding a lot of second half pressure, Fulham stood firm and deserved their points.

New players are traditionally given a time to adjust when signing for a new club, but today Pavel Pogrebnyak was thrown straight into the deep end. He did really well, withstanding quite a battering but always competing for and frequently winning the high balls sent his way, shielding the ball well and showing signs of being a fine team player. It was a bit like having a big white fridge freezer up front, except few fridges show composure when in on goal: Pogrebnyak gathered a Riise drive, kept his cool and swept the ball high into the Stoke net with a hefty left boot.  It’s lovely to see players make their first appearance for a new club, so much hope and optimism, and when something nice happens like a goal on debut, well that’s terrific isn’t it?

Then we added another. Dempsey shocked everyone by getting a long range strike on target, a 30+ yard drive hurtling through the freezing London air and dropping into the net via some combination of crossbar and goalkeeper.   A belter.

Only one team in it at this point, but Tony Pulis’ side gave a much better account of themselves in the second half.  Plan A, featuring Peter Crouch and Kenwyne Jones, hadn’t really worked, but the introduction of the lively Jermaine Pennant for the game’s last spell really transformed things, and all of a sudden the game felt dicey.  Ryan Shawcross scored what looked like a soft goal from a corner, and much huffing and puffing followed.  Jol took off Murphy and brought on Etuhu, as if conceding possession for the remainder, and sure enough the barrage continued. Schwarzer continued to punch clear like a drunken amateur tennis coach demonstrating his service technique  to an admirer, but all that came then went, and Fulham held on.  It could have been three when Dempsey nipped around the goalkeeper deep in injury time, but his shot from an angle rolled against the post when another goal for his collection seemed almost certain.

Never mind.  Three more valuable points, earned with a fine team effort, led by the extraoardinary Dembele, the inexhaustable Duff (great to see him back), the commendable Pogrebnyak, the irrepressable Dempsey and the brave and useful back four.  Bryan Ruiz continued to look a bit lost but he still feels like a star in the making, next season being his ETA. Everyone else did their bit, and a good three points to relax those among us with half empty glasses.

11 thoughts on “Fulham 2-1 Stoke

  1. Somewhere, Martin Jol is saying “I love it when a plan comes together”, lighting a cigar, and then grinding it into dust between his massive jaws.

  2. Great debut for the boy, really good to see a player that sees Fulham as a great opportunity in life an trying his hardest. He will not want to miss games through injury. Thank god your predictor thingy wasn’t right, or was it I got confused..

  3. I was pleased with all aspects of the Pog, who was more mobile than I’d feared he might be (definitely a portable fridge freezer) and, without the benefit of meaningful acclimatisation time, nevertheless knew when and where to make his runs. That he looked enthusiastic was icing on the cake. He looks a more than decent all-rounder who, whether he scores or not, will contribute by his presence. As indeed was implied by what happened once he’d gone off.

  4. Dembele stood out for me. He did plenty of ball-winning, as well as the good passing and carrying we’ve come to expect. Riise also played well, with some cracking tackles. Stoke really were pretty one-dimensional though, and I didn’t think we were under particularly serious pressure even after their goal.

    1. He’s now being used quite differently to how the other managers deployed him. His dribbling strengths are finally being harnassed and he’s coping with the defensive side better than he was coping with a striker’s or winger’s role. Nobody else in the team can offer a tackling/dribbling combination to anything like that standard, but while he is available to do so it augurs well.

      1. Yes. I really like Dembele in the central midfield role. Has Jol played him along side Murphy before? My memory is struggling to recall.

        Just need to find a place where Ruiz can contribute now …

    1. They are not the same player.

      Danny is all about the vision, controlling a game, dictating tempo and creating something from nothing with a defence splitting pass.

      Dembele is all about creating space for other players with his dribbling and technical ability. His passing and vision is improving but is not in the same league as Danny. Dembele will prefer to drive forward with the ball then make a pass to a player in space, whilst Danny is happy to receive the ball, pass and receive it back again whilst all the time looking for a player making a run then threading a ball through to that player.

  5. I have to disagree with some of the comments above; I thought Dembele’s best attributes were wasted in the role he played yesterday. Maybe if he were paired with someone whose job was solely to win the ball (Hodgson-era Etuhu, say) and pass it his way, then he’d be effective in the central midfield role, but I don’t think he did too much dribbling at all yesterday.

    That being said, of course, a win is a win, and here we are on the verge of the top half while QPR are only out of the relegation zone on goal differential. Big match in a couple weeks!

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