Murphy's words come back to haunt as Stoke prevail

Stoke City 2 Fulham 0

Danny Murphy, as articulate as any Premier League footballer, was left to rue a misguided 12-month-old character assassination of what he considered to be an over-physical Stoke City team as he and his Fulham colleagues were eventually pummeled into submission.

Less committed sides would have settled for what looked like developing into a tame draw but Stoke have proved during their four-year stay among the elite that what they may lack in style, they more than make up for in courage.

Their burning desire to strike back at Murphy's "crazy tackling" jibe and their refusal to stop banging away at a Fulham defence – which had stood firm for the previous 515 minutes of action since being breached twice by Manchester City in mid-September – was eventually rewarded with two goals in the last 10 minutes through Jonathan Walters and Rory Delap. Those late breakthroughs made it a flattering result for Tony Pulis and his men but they cared little about that as they cemented their position in the top half of the table before returning to European duties against Maccabi Tel Aviv on Thursday.

"It's been a great start to the season and we are very pleased," said Pulis. "But we know how quickly things can change in this game. If you take your eye off the ball, everything can crumble in no time."

Pulis praised the patience of Stoke's supporters and understood that they are not yet ready to draw a line under the Murphy affair, even though he is letting the matter drop.

"In a way it helped us," Pulis reflected. "There were times when the game went quiet but the fans kept on the ball [in barracking Murphy]."

Fulham, who will also be involved in Europe's second division when they travel to Krakow in advance of their next domestic engagement against Everton, were left ruing their failure to stay solid for their entire visit to one of the most daunting domestic battlegrounds.

"If you are hoping to hang on for a 0-0 you have to do your bit for 90 minutes, not 80," said Martin Jol, a disconsolate visiting manager. "Stoke are a hard team to play against and we had silenced them by playing to their style and trying to fight against them.

"A lot of teams have problems here but we started brightly so it's frustrating to lose in the way we did. You know that they are always likely to score against you from set pieces so you need the cushion of a goal of your own."

John Arne Riise came closest to silencing the noisy natives with a thunderous shot against the angle of post and bar but any sense of a Fulham grievance was cancelled out by a succession of near misses at the other end. Mark Schwarzer's goal frame rattled just as severely when the industrious Delap shot on the turn, while it needed the speedy reactions of Chris Baird on the goal line to prevent the dangerous Peter Crouch from breaking the deadlock before his front-running partner Walters did so.

Walters' fourth goal of the season was an instinctive tap-in from close range after Crouch had teed up Matthew Etherington with a header back from the far post. Fulham's misery was complete seven minutes later when nobody bothered to jump with Delap following Etherington's dangerous free kick.

Chances had been a rare commodity in a disappointing first half, the best of them being carved out in stoppage time by Jermaine Pennant. Stoke's nippy winger swapped passes with Crouch in the Fulham penalty area and glided past two cautious would-be tacklers. The stunning dribble deserved a goal; sadly the finish – a few inches wide of the far post – did not.

Stoke should have been ahead before then as Crouch spurned two great chances. Twice the ball fell at his feet on the six-yard line but each time he failed to make clean contact, much to Schwarzer's relief.

Stoke (4-4-2): Begovic; Wilkinson, Shawcross, Woodgate, Wilson; Pennant (Whitehead, 82), Delap, Whelan, Etherington (Diao, 90+1); Walters, Crouch.

Fulham (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Baird, Hangeland, Hughes, J Riise; Dembele (Duff, 36), Murphy (Briggs, 80), Sidwell, Dempsey; Zamora, Johnson (Sa, 85).

Referee: Martin Atkinson.

Man of the match: Rory Delap (Stoke)

Match rating: 6/10

Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleThe idea has been greeted enthusiastically by the party's MPs
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
i100(More than you think)
Brendan Rodgers seems more stressed than ever before as Liverpool manager
FOOTBALLI like Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
The number of GP practices with 10 or more doctors has grown by 75 per cent
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
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

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game