It was a tumultuous affair at Craven Cottage on Saturday despite the meager 1-0 scoreline. Fulham got the better of Stoke 1-0.
The game had at least three incidents which could have had a player sent off including Dimitar Berbatov’s elbow of Steven N’Zonzi, N’Zonzi’s half-punch/half-slap of Bryan Ruiz and finally, Robert Huth’s forearm shiver to the face of Philippe Senderos.
The big news for American fans was the debut of Brek Shea who entered the match in the 24th minute for an injured Matthew Etherington.
It was a mixed performance from Shea who did well in earning a penalty for Stoke, fizzed a shot just wide of the Fulham net at the hour mark and put in a very dangerous corner kick service in stoppage time (The penalty Shea earned was missed by Jonathan Walters). Shea also entered the match to a short series of “USA! USA!” chants.
On the negative side, Shea’s lack of a competitive match since last September showed as he tried to shake off the rust. Shea lost possession for Stoke a number of times, was frequently drawn too narrow, killing Stoke’s width and struggled to find a rhythm with Stoke left-back Marc Wilson. Defensively, Fulham got far too many crosses off from Stoke’s left side, many of them because Shea did not close down the attack quickly enough.
Geoff Cameron also started for Stoke, once again in the withdrawn forward role that Stoke manager Tony Pulis tried him in against Arsenal three weeks ago. Cameron was, not surprisingly, ineffective in the role and was switched to a wide midfield role midway through the first half.
With Stoke down a goal, Cameron was withdrawn in favor of Cameron Jerome in the 51st minute.