Charlie Adam proved the match-winner as Stoke City earned a well-deserved 1-0 win over an ineffectual Fulham at the Britannia Stadium.
Fulham struggled to cope with Stoke’s aerial threat for the entire game and it was a Peter Crouch knock-down that proved decisive, as Adam converted it with ease to hand Tony Pulis’ side the three points.
After a fairly even, albeit scrappy, opening 15 minutes, Stoke began to dominate and, predictably, it was a set-piece that led to the first chance with Robert Huth heading just wide from a corner.
Stoke’s pressure told in the 26th minute when Ryan Shotton got forward down the right and crossed to Crouch, who headed down for Adam to turn the ball home from six yards out.
Fulham continued to struggle against Stoke’s long passing game and another great chance went begging for the home side, with Ryan Shawcross heading onto the underside of the bar.
Fulham failed to assert themselves on the match and that pattern looked set to continue in the second half as Glenn Whelan fired over from the edge of the area after Mark Schwarzer flapped at a Matthew Etherington cross.
Stoke’s pressure was relentless and the next chances came with 25 minutes remaining, Huth and Shawcross failing to capitalise from free headers following successive corners.
It was 73 minutes in before Asmir Begovic was finally forced into a save as Fulham pushed forward, Dimitar Berbatov firing straight at the Bosnian goalkeeper following a fluent build-up.
Fulham began to come into the game as they pushed men forward in the latter stages, but there were few chances as they were ultimately unable to break down a typically resolute Stoke defence.
With minutes remaining, a linesman’s flag was all that denied Stoke’s Kenwyne Jones a first Premier League goal of the season but the three points were already safe for the hosts.