Champagne Charlie does it again

Posted by James Whittaker

Stoke made it three wins for the season as they beat Fulham 1-0 Saturday at windswept Britannia Stadium with Charlie Adam celebrating his second goal in as many games at home.

- Another home win for Stoke

The hosts came out quickly, eager to take the game to Fulham. Once the mandatory 20 minutes of head tennis were out of the way, the red and white settled into their rhythm and went about dispatching Martin Jol's side with more ease than the scoreline would suggest.

The main talking points:

Team Selection/Tactics - Manager Tony Pulis stuck with the same side except with Ryan Shotton coming in on the right for the injured Andy Wilkinson with Geoff Cameron taking his turn at left back. I was hoping for a couple more changes to the starting XI, but expected the side that took to the field. I wrote in my last piece that if Stoke did start that team, that we would need to support Peter Crouch like we did in the first half against West Ham and for the most part that’s exactly what Stoke did. I was slightly surprised at Matthew Etherington coming off for Michael Kightly; it was at the point we started to drop a bit deeper, perhaps Pulis thought that Kightly would keep the ball upfield better than the diminutive winger.

The other substitution that surprised me - in a good way - was Kenwyne Jones for Crouch. It was a change that needed to be made and Pulis wasted no time in getting him on as we started to get deeper and deeper with Crouch getting increasingly isolated. The change proved to be the right one - on Jones' first touch on the halfway line, he held off the defender, spun him and sprinted into the opposition half, drawing the foul and giving us time to regroup and have a breather.

That agility, power and pace is important when the lone striker has no options available and needs to make something happen by himself. Granted, he strolled about a bit too much for my liking but the impact he had in possession, including running onto a nice pass and scoring a disallowed goal, was enough to offset a touch of laziness.

Shotton – I was nervous seeing him start as he has not proven to be the most consistent performer, but to his credit he had a good game. He might not be the best right back Stoke have but he is comfortable in possession and has decent pace to get forward (and back), even if his crossing is often akin to a game of Russian Roulette. On the goal, it was a peach of a cross to the far stick, but he was soon to put a couple in the south stand to even things out.

Whelan – He had a good game too; he looked very neat and tidy and showed no sign of injury as he drove the midfield forward. It was also good to see him try his luck from outside the area. Despite him not hitting the target, he wasn’t too far off and was more than willing to take the responsibility of having a go. He was my choice for Man of the Match.

Overall I was happy at the final whistle. I would have liked to have won by a more comfortable margin but we had some good chances and on another day could have scored two or three more.

The approach was spot on, as the substitutes not far behind so I’m buoyed that Pulis perhaps has a more realistic view of the system’s limitations than I give him credit for, though I’d really like to see Kightly in for Jonathan Walters in order to say that with absolute conviction - one step at a timem though. It’s not long until Stoke's next match as Newcastle United are welcomed into town Wednesday.

Let’s hope the team pick up where they left off - six points from these two home games is a great return and if Pulis’ men play like they did today I’ve no doubt that’s exactly what we’ll get.

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