At a freezing Craven Cottage, Fulham added three more points to their Premier League total as the Cottage once again proved to be a safe haven after more misery on the road in recent times.
Martin Jol, thanks to red-tape being satisfied, was able to field his latest acquisition, the blond Russian striker – Pavel Pogrebnyak, and he was to make an immediate impact.
In a match that we were to dominate, for large periods, the Russian did enough to suggest that he will be a valuable acquisition and, to some, was the man-of-the-match.
The opening exchanges of this encounter were very cagey with the game being compacted into a midfield battle with chances being few and far between.
But all that changed with sixteen minutes on the clock. John Arne Riise unleashed a powerful shot, from some distance out, which Pogrebnyak controlled with one foot, switched to his other and beat Sorenson all ends up. The tall striker, quite rightly, milked the applause that came his way from all four corners of the ground.
Fulham were dominant and twelve minutes later doubled their lead. Clint Dempsey picked up a loose ball and fired a thunderbolt of a shot towards goal. It hit the bar and the unfortunate Sorensen could do absolutely nothing as it hit on the back and entered the net.
The way Fulham were playing it looked as if we were in for an avalanche of goals. Our new Russian hero – ‘Pav` – had two half chances, the first saw a header go wide and the second a decent looking shot blocked.
Whilst on the stroke of half time Murphy saw a free kick, right on the edge of the area, saved by Sorensen.
Tony Pulis must have had harsh words for his side at half time because they came out for the second half looking much sharper and looking to control the temp of the game.
But, for long periods Fulham remained in control and when ‘Pav` was force doff with what looked to be a twisted ankle, he received a deserved round of applause.
But Fulham were left to negotiate a nervy last twelve minutes or so when Stoke reduced the arrears through a superb header form Shawcross who met a cross in from the lively looking Stoke substitute, Pennant.
But hold on they did and the three points were most welcome.
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