Feb 11 2012 By Yann Tear
Clint Dempsey Image 1
Fulham 2-1 Stoke City
PAVEL Pogrebnyak needed only a quarter of an hour of his debut to score his first Fulham goal as Martin Jol's men held off a strong late Stoke surge to claim three points..
The Russian may have had trouble locating a work permit this week, but had no such problems when it came to finding the net - being perfectly placed just inside the area to control a wayward shot from John Arne Riise before smartly tucking home.
As a way of endearing himself to home fans desperate to unearth a new hero in the wake of Booby Zamora's defection to QPR, it could not have been better.
The former Zenit striker, drafted in from Bundesliga side Stuttgart, put himself about in a way which home fans appreciated and the new blond number seven even got on with it after taking a couple of kicks from the visitors by way of a welcome to the Premier League,
Just 12 minutes after Pogrebnyak's opener, Clint Dempsey's 35-yarder cannoned off the crossbar and over the line via the back of Stoke keeper Thomas Sorensen and the home side were seemingly in the comfort zone.
Before the first half was out, Danny Murphy had sent a curling free-kick inches wide and Damien Duff – taking delivery of a delicious Murphy chip inside the area – fired against the Stoke stopper.
How Fulham must wish they could dispense with tiresome obligation to turn up to away games.
Form away from Craven Cottage continues to be a largely reward-free enterprise for the Whites, but down by the Thames, they come alive. At least when Man United are not the visitors.
Stoke perhaps had half an eye on the glamour trip to Valencia coming up in the Europa League and did not look the part at all before the break.
A couple of lamentable efforts from Kenwyne Jones – one of which resulted in a thow-in rather than a goal-kick – brought the inevitable refrain of 'Are you Bobby in disguise?' from the Hammersmith End in reference to Zamora.
But Stoke upped their game after the break in a bid to get back in the contest. Matthew Upson missed from close range after Glenn Whelan had whipped in a free-kick to the near post and Peter Crouch made a hash of a half chance – much to the delight of mocking fans.
Their attacks had more purpose when Jones made way for Ricardo Fuller midway through the half, but the Whites were managing the threat well until 12 minutes from time, when Ryan Shawcross glanced in a corner from Jermaine Pennant.
That was the cue for mounting anxiety in the stands as Stoke sensed a draw could be theirs for the taking and five minutes of injury time hardly helped the nerves as Fulham dropped deeper and deeper.
But in the end, the Whites got over the line and almost snatched a third on the breakaway – Dempsey rolling a shot against the post after rounding the keeper.
Line up: Schwarzer; Kelly, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise; Duff, Dembele, Murphy (Etuhu 80), Dempsey; Ruiz (Baird 89), Pogrebnyak (Davies 62). Subs not used: Stockdale, Gecov, Frei, Trotta.