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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
22:22 5th May 2010

Fulham 0 Stoke City 1

STOKE CITY made a triumphant return to west London as Matthew Etherington's late winner moved them back up into the top half of the Premier League table.

The Potters, who suffered a heavy defeat a short distance away at Chelsea eleven days ago, produced a magnificent display to defeat Europa League Finalists Fulham.

The victory, their third in the capital this season, moved them back up to 10th position and ensured that they improved upon last season's tally of 45 points.

Etherington struck seven minutes from the end after City had frustrated Fulham, most notably when Asmir Begovic pulled off a stunning save to deny Clint Dempsey.

Matthew Etherington takes on Zoltan Gera. ACTION IMAGES

As expected, Pulis fielded an unchanged line-up, but the major surprise before the game was that Fulham boss Roy Hodgson opted not to rest many of his first team stars, with the only notable absentee being striker Bobby Zamora.

Though it was Fulham who had the lion's share of the possession in the opening exchanges, they rarely threatened to carve out a clear-cut chance.

There were a couple of hopeful appeals for handball in one period of pressure from the home side, but they were waved away by referee Peter Walton.

When a Danny Murphy corner swung over from the right fell to Damien Duff at the far post, he had a clear sight of goal but his attempted volley was sliced wide.

Robert Huth and Clint Dempsey battle for the ball. ACTION IMAGES

Moments later, however, Duff turned provider with a burst down the left and his low cross to the edge of the box was fired over the bar by Zoltan Gera.

With chances few and far between, one of the highlights of the first half was the sight of the City supporters doing the conga up and down the stairways.

It took until the 32nd minute for the first shot on target as a slick build-up opened the way for Gera but his low shot was straight at Asmir Begovic.

Mamady Sidibe and Dickson Etuhu in action at Craven Cottage. ACTION IMAGES

The first real opportunity for City came right at the end of the half when Glenn Whelan fired a left foot shot well wide after Mamady Sidibe had set him up.

Fulham made a tactical switch at half time as Duff was replaced by Eric Nevland who came on for what was his final home appearance for the club.

It was City though who posed more of a threat at the start of the second half and Ricardo Fuller headed wide from one of Delap's long throw-ins.

Etherington then gave the Fulham defence two scares in quick succession, the first of them with a low cross that flashed across the face of goal.

When the winger then hoisted another centre to the far post, it slipped from Schwarzer's grasp but Delap was unable to force the ball home from a tight angle.

Matthew Etherington takes on Zoltan Gera. ACTION IMAGES

Little had been seen of Fulham as an attacking force in the second half but it took a brilliant save from Begovic to prevent them going front, as he reacted quickly to block a Dempsey shot at the far post after being picked out by Gera's cross.

Tuncay was brought on to replace the tiring Sidibe and the Turkish skipper hooked a shot over the bar in the 77th minute after Shawcross had flicked on a Delap throw.

City's encouraging performance in the second half was rewarded seven minutes from the end when Fuller capitalised on a slip by Konchesky to burst down the right.

His cross took a couple of deflections off Fulham defenders and fell to Etherington at the far post who volleyed home his shot off the inside of a post.

The Potters then hung on in the closing stages, although Fulham could only muster a couple of long range efforts in their search for an equaliser.

Matthew Etherington strikes home the winner at Craven Cottage against Fulham. ACTION IMAGES

    QUICK FACTS

    The Potters played out four replays to finally beat Bury in the FA Cup in 1955