Dempsey's double proves too hot for Stoke

Fulham 2 Stoke City 0

When Mark Hughes said last weekend that his Fulham team could challenge for a place in the top ten of the Barclays Premier League, most people probably thought he was being a little optimistic for the manager of a side that had been in the bottom three on Boxing Day. But this comfortable victory suggests that Hughes might know something after all.

Clint Dempsey's seventh and eighth league goals of the season gave Fulham a haul of ten points from five games, a sequence that began with a 2-0 victory at Stoke on December 28th. Yesterday they recorded back-to-back wins at Craven Cottage for the first time this season as well as a league double over opponents whose physical challenge might have been expected to cause them problems.

Instead Stoke inflicted wounds on themselves, having Ryan Shawcross, their captain, sent off for conceding the penalty from which Dempsey scored his second. But the improving form of Andrew Johnson and Mousa Dembele, both of whom have missed parts of the season through injury, was also a factor.

"We were convinced things would turn when we got injured players back," Hughes said. "We had a great result against Stoke away from home which galvanised us and made us understand how we need to win games in a very difficult league."

Shawcross's afternoon could have begun more memorably than it ended had he not put an early header wide, and Stoke had another good chance when Kenwyne Jones hit the outside of a post after a miscued clearance fell his way six yards out.

Fulham, though, were the better side, Damien Duff hitting the crossbar from 25 yards and forcing a diving save from Asmir Begovic, and it was no surprise when they took the lead after 33 minutes. The hapless Shawcross was slow to react when Johnson took possession in the area, darted past him and crossed low for Dempsey to steal a yard on Andy Wilkinson and hit a first-time shot into the roof of the net.

Fulham doubled their advantage after 54 minutes as Dempsey took Danny Murphy's long pass with an exquisite first touch that would have set him up for a shot on goal had Shawcross not wrestled him to the ground. The red card was inevitable, Dempsey's penalty unerring.

"2-0 to the football team," the Fulham supporters sang. Stoke introduced John Carew for his debut after joining on loan from Aston Villa for the rest of the season, but he made little impression. "We had great chances, as poorly as we've played," Tony Pulis, the Stoke manager, said. "But the sending off and the penalty killed the game. Dempsey's a very clever player."

Attendance: 23,766

Referee: Stuart Atwell

Man of the match: Dempsey

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific