Adam the difference as solid Stoke beat Fulham
The Britannia Stadium
Another Charlie Adam winner at the Britannia and an outstanding defensive display ensured Stoke beat Fulham yesterday.
Adam, who scored the decisive goal in Stoke's previous home game against QPR, was again on hand to pounce in the area and give his side a crucial three points.
Stoke looked comfortable throughout and should have added more goals, before a nervy 10 minute spell at the end which saw the likes of Shawcross, Huth and Begovic thwart their opposition once more.
Fulham started well but with the absence of Brede Hangeland, the visitors were soon dominated by a forceful Stoke side, with the magnificent N'Zonzi shining throughout.
The absence of Hangeland was evident throughout, and Robert Huth really should have put Stoke 1-0 up early on, but his header flashed narrowly past the post.
However, that was an early scare which Fulham failed to heed, as Stoke found the lead soon after.
Ryan Shotton's looping cross found Peter Crouch at the backpost, whose header back across goal fell to Charlie Adam, who expertly swivelled and guided the ball past Schwarzer before the Fulham defence had time to react.
Stoke continued to threaten as they searched for that all important second goal, and they would have got it, had Shawcross' header not been inches lower as it crashed against the crossbar.
The second half was less eventful but Stoke seemed in control throughout, stifling Fulham's attacking threat, and should have wrapped up the victory but Whelan's 18 yard effort flew over the bar after good work from John Walters.
Knowing that just one goal would see Fulham grab a point, Stoke edged backwards in the closing stages of the match and were made to work for their victory as Fulham probed for the equaliser.
The ever-dangerous Berbatov nearly found it, but Begovic, who has been phenomenal all season, stood firm alongside his defensive colleagues to deny the Bulgarian and co.
Up the other end, Kenywne Jones looked to have put Stoke out of sight after a clever finish when put through one on one - but the striker's effort was ruled offside.
It was not to matter though, as Stoke picked up another vital three points at home, stretching their unbeaten run to 13 games.
The Potters have now conceded just one goal in their opening six premier league matches at the Britannia, and with Charlie Adam looking as goal-hungry as he did in his Blackpool days, things are looking up for Stoke, who now sit comfortably clear of the relegation zone.
Apart from the great Ricardo Fuller, N'Zonzi is the best footballer I've seen at Stoke by some distance. He really is a special player.
The Frenchman put in another superb performance in the middle of the park yesterday, and is proving to be an incredible signing.
He's just an absolute class act - not only is the former Blackburn man strong, composed and majestic in possession, he is still only young and Potters fans will be hoping for many more years of watching him in a Stoke shirt.
The amazing thing is, I still believe he can get better, he has all the attributes to be a top, top central midfielder, and I'm talking champions league, international standard here.
I have to admit, I always knew he was a good player at Blackburn, or at least he had great potential, but I could never have imagined he'd be this good.
In his first game against Man City I was extremely impressed, he was up against Yaya Toure and in all honesty he was more than a match for Toure - who is in my opinion the best all round midfielder in the world.
But that performance was clearly not a flash in the pan, his consistency so far has been staggering.
N'Zonzi is pleasure to watch and I just hope he's at Stoke for many years to come.
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