Fulham 1 Stoke 0 match report: Darren Bent strikes lucky to ease pressure on uneasy Martin Jol

Win gives Jol just his second win of the season and lifts the Cottagers out of the relegation zone

Craven Cottage

At last, victory for Martin Jol, but also an element of vindication. Fulham secured their first win since the opening day of the season thanks to a last roll of the dice by the manager. Darren Bent came on as his third substitute to hit the game’s only goal and give Jol what he admitted was a “lucky” win of “unbelievable importance”.

“We are in the same position now as seven other teams,” the Fulham manager said. “It gives you relief and confidence.”

It also means the manager keeps his job, but both the game and Jol’s words revealed why his future has been in the balance. With Fulham known to be reluctant to make a final decision on his future, Stoke were arguably appropriate opponents. Their own manager, Mark Hughes, left Craven Cottage in 2011 because he felt the club lacked ambition, and was appointed at the Britannia as Stoke finally sought to move away from the reductive football that initially anchored them in the Premier League.

This is the recurring problem with teams in that middle band of the table. Without the innovation of a club such as Swansea, the most they can realistically aim for in the long term is upper mid-table and the good football security should allow. At this stage last season Jol’s team found that balance, producing some riveting play. But unless there is potential for growth, a sense of stagnation is inevitable.

That is part of the dilemma at Fulham. It was revealed in some dismal football in this game, and provided at least one reason why the arguments backing a change of manager are not all borne of panic – even if Bent ultimately alleviated it. The impression remains that they will be fine with Jol, but that he will struggle to recreate impressive displays without investment.

At the same time, Stoke are now attempting to emulate what Fulham initially achieved. This match repeatedly illustrated that contrast – if also how much work Hughes still has to do.

For long patches Stoke confidently outpassed Jol’s side. That in itself did reveal further issues at Fulham. Some within the club are known to be worried about a lack of balance in the team, although Jol himself has not been helped by their lack of capability in the transfer market. This was a midfield far removed from the fizz of Mousa Dembélé, even if Steve Sidwell and Giorgos Karagounis both offered abrasive challenges as they attempted to interrupt Stoke’s rhythm.

Fulham were still fortunate that somewhat anxious aggression did not spill over into something more costly, as both Steven Ireland and Jonathan Walters should have been awarded penalties for fouls around the box. Hughes railed against those decisions and also insisted that Pajtim Kasami “should have been sent off for raising his hands” at Erik Pieters” though the defender did appear to exaggerate the contact.

The Stoke manager did acknowledge that his team’s loss was not solely down to refereeing decisions, and lamented a lack of “end product” in a performance he was otherwise pleased with.

Because just as Stoke seemed set to push on Fulham regained a foothold and saw Bryan Ruiz felled by Marc Wilson, prompting a penalty call of their own. Again, the referee, Roger East, shook his head.

That failure to finish what they started would cost Stoke. For in the 20 minutes leading up to the goal, they seemed the more likely to score. Steven N’Zonzi shot just wide, Ireland went close and Robert Huth had a header cleared off the line by Sascha Riether.

The full-back then stormed the full length of the pitch to force a save from Asmir Begovic. It was not the only bounce of the ball the home side enjoyed. Dimitar Berbatov was injured, with Jol admitting he probably would not have introduced Bent had the Bulgarian stayed fit. In the event, the substitute striker side-stepped Begovic to fire the ball into the centre of the net.

Suddenly, Fulham are much closer to the centre of the table. Yet that has been part of the problem.


Fulham (4-4-1-1): Stockdale; Riether, Hangeland (Richardson, h-t), Senderos, Amorebieta; Kasami, Sidwell, Karagounis (Boateng, 60), Duff; Ruiz; Berbatov (Bent, 66).

Stoke (4-5-1): Begovic; Pieters, Huth, Shawcross, Wilson (Whelan, 59); Walters (Crouch, 84), Cameron, N’Zonzi, Ireland, Etherington (Assaidi, 63); Arnautovic.

Referee: Roger East.

Man of the match: Riether (Fulham)

Match rating: 5/10

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments