Stoke 3-2 Fulham

Last updated : 13 January 2010 By Dan Buxton

The Potters produced a fantastic performance to wrap up a first victory in six league games at home to Fulham.

Stoke raced into a three goal lead, thanks to Tuncay, skipper Abdoulaye Faye and Mama Sidibe before a determined defensive display left them with enough to cling on as the London side lay seige to the Potters goal in the second half.

With snow falling all over the City the game was in doubt right upto kick off but the hosts showed none of that indecisiveness at the start as, after jusy ninety seconds, Sidibe put Etherington in behind the defence. The winger, fresh from a fantastic free kick in Saturdays win over York, showed great compoure to just knock the ball past the keeper and into the net. Just a he turned to celebrate the crowd and players glanced across to see the linesmans flag raised and the goal was chalked off for offside.

Stoke were without first choice keeper Thomas Sorenson, who pulled up in the warm up with a recurrence of his finger injury, and his deputy Steve Simonsen was deceived by a Danny Murphy free kick after six minutes when the experienced playmaker rolled the ball under the jumping wall and just wide of the far post.

City were playing some fantastic free flowing football, with Turkish star Tuncay at the centre of most of it, and he grabbed his second City goal on thirteen minutes when, after robbing the defence of the ball on the half way line and winning a corner after a driving run, he was on the end of Huth's flick on, the German rose dominantly to meet Etherington's corner, with Tuncay nodding in from 3 yards.

Etherington is in form this season and he almost got a second assist of the night when he burt down the left before squaring to Sidibe, whose turn and shot forced Schwarzer into a fine save.

He did get his second assist shortly after though when his corner flew to the back post and Abdoulaye Faye slid in to double the lead. Two then became three shortly after when good play between Tuncay and Etherington saw the Englishman chip the ball into the run of Higginbotham. The defender flicked the ball on with his head to Sidibe who half volleyed it into the ground and up into the roof of the net.

The Potters then had their second injury setback of the night as Tuncay had to be withdrawn after picking up a hamstring injury but substitute Ricardo Fuller picked up the mantle and could have had a couple himself by halftime. The Jamaican hit the post from another Etherington corner, with Huth and Delap having shots bravely blocked in the follow up and then moments before the half time whistle he expertly brought down Higginbothams pass flicked the ball over Kelly before seeing his strike at goal blocked by Hughes with Schwarzer beaten.

Stoke had dominated so far but were forced into a lot more defensive duties in the second half and Zamora and Gera both went within inches of reducing the deficit straight after half time. Irishman Duff also went close when he skimmed the bar with a free kick but that didn't stop him trying his luck again minutes later. This time his 22 yard effort deflected off Higginbotham and flew into the opposite corner, leaving Simonsen with no chance.

Duff was now at the top of his game and his cross was headed towards goal by Dempsey forcing Simonsen into a smart save. Fuller forced another great save from Schwarzer late on before Dempsey's late consolation goal, a crackerjack effort from 30 yards, but the Potters had enough to hang on and secure the win.