A diminutive craftsman in a team of hefty artisans, albeit someone more than capable of putting the boot in if required, it is taking Stoke's Charlie Adam time to adjust after his move from Liverpool. But while his passing continues to be under-utilised in the Potteries, and probably always will be, for the second home match in a row the Scot was in the right place to score the goal which gave his side three points.
"Adam even looks bigger than he looked last year, it must be good food in Stoke," said Fulham manager Martin Jol, after acknowledging his side had been bullied during a first half in which they were under constant pressure.
He maintained that Giorgos Karagounis had been fouled in the build-up to Stoke's goal, but his complaints were otherwise aimed largely at the manner in which his side let themselves be knocked out of their usual passing stride.
For so long a pushover away from home, the Dutchman has imbued Fulham with a steeliness on their travels this season, the visitors coming into this game unbeaten in their last four away games. Unfortunately for Jol, the suspension of Brede Hangeland and injuries to Bryan Ruiz and Alexander Kacaniklic meant his line-up bore a much-changed look.
The Potters had been turning the screw for some time before they opened the scoring shortly before the half-hour. Peter Crouch was sandwiched between two defenders as he waited at the far post for Ryan Shotton's deep cross, but the forward was still able to nod the ball back across goal where Adam, shockingly unmarked about six yards from goal, had more than enough time to control the ball, turn and fire past Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.
Minutes later Stoke came close to extending their lead when Schwarzer came for Matthew Etherington's corner, but was out-jumped by Ryan Shawcross, whose header thumped against the underside of the crossbar before bouncing clear.
Glenn Whelan, running on to Jon Walter's set-up after Schwarzer had again flapped at an Etherington cross, shot over at the start of the second half, but the Australian goalkeeper was at his best in touching Huth's header over just after the hour mark.
Having offered so little going forward, Fulham then put together a glorious sequence of passes in which both Ashkan Dejagah and Damien Duff were prominent before Dimitar Berbatov fired in a rising angled drive which Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic had to dive to his right to save.
Having finally begun to threaten, Fulham continued to attack, but it was Stoke who had the ball in the back of the net again only for striker Kenwyne Jones's late effort to be ruled out for offside.
"We've just asked Charlie to get closer to 'Crouchie'," said Stoke manager Tony Pulis. "We're pretty structured, organised and disciplined, we need him up around Peter, and if he does that, he'll get opportunities to score."
Stoke (4-5-1): Begovic; Shotton, Huth, Shawcross, Cameron; Walters, Whelan, N'Zonzi, Adam (Whitehead, 82), Etherington (Kightly, 72); Crouch (Jones, 77).
Fulham (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Riether, Hughes, Senderos, Riise; Dejegah, Baird, Sidwell (Rodallega, 81), Karagounis (Duff, 73); Petric, Berbatov.
Referee: Michael Oliver
Man of the match: Adam (Stoke)
Match rating: 6/10
- More about:
- Brede Hangeland
- Dimitar Berbatov
- Peter Crouch
- Premier League
- Steve Sidwell
- Stoke City