Stoke City 0 Fulham 0

Last updated : 13 December 2008 By Footymad Previewer
Giant centre-back Brede Hangeland was outstanding at the heart of the visitors' defence and Tony Pulis' side just couldn't find a way through.

Stoke did suffer a serious setback after just 90 seconds when Mamady Sidibe, the fulcrum of their attack, crumpled in a heap after winning a header.

The big striker received treatment for four minutes before he was stretchered off with a knee injury and replaced by Richard Cresswell.

Referee Stuart Attwell then got in the bad books of the Stoke fans when he booked Ricardo Fuller for a late challenge on Norwegian Hangeland.

But the home side were delighted to see Mr Attwell award nothing when Danny Higginbotham clearly handled a cross from Jimmy Bullard in the penalty area in the 20th minute.

The action itself produced little to get excited about in the first-half until Fuller's header from Glenn Whelan's corner was blocked by his own player Cresswell.

And Stoke, with Ibrahima Sonko taking on the long-throw duties because of Rory Delap's shoulder problem, came closest to breaking the deadlock in the 40th minute.

Cresswell started and should have finished the move, with some excellent work in between by Fuller to set up the only clear cut chance of the half.

The City substitute set himself with a good first touch, but then curled his shot high and wide from 12 yards with the goal at his mercy.

Fulham finally landed a blow of note two minutes after the interval when Bullard's shot was comfortably held by Thomas Sorensen at his near post.

But much of the play remained untidy and that was summed up when Fuller and John Paintsil got involved in an ugly exchange, which could have got both players sent off.

Their heads touched before Paintsil collapsed in a theatrical heap and Mr Atwell, whose decisions continued to incur the wrath of the home fans, settled the issue by lecturing Fuller.

Pulis attempted to pep up his troops by replacing the out of sorts Delap with Michael Tonge just after the hour, but Fulham began to enjoy their best period of the game.

That almost led to the opening goal when Clint Dempsey's close range shot was deflected over the top after good work by Andy Johnson and Gera.

And Simon Davies whipped a 20-yard shot inches past Sorensen's near post after cutting in from the left flank.

Stoke responded with substitute Vincent Pericard spearing a shot wide from a decent position, and they also had half a shout for a penalty when Fuller went down under pressure from Danny Murphy.

But this disjointed contest had 0-0 written all over it long before Mr Attwell confirmed just that.