Joined: 12 Apr 2004
Location: Atlanta, GA
|Posted: Sun May 06, 2007 10:21 pm Post subject: The Ricard Fuller show
|Virtuoso displays from Stoke strikers Jon Parkin and Ricardo Fuller kept the Potters' play-off push alive after a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace. Both scored in the first half and were constant thorns in Palace's side throughout as Tony Pulis' men kept up the pressure on Wolves and Southampton.
Parkin - only partnering Fuller in attack because of an Achilles injury to Mamady Sidibe - lit up an entertaining match at the Britannia Stadium with a sublime finish in the 20th minute.
There appeared little danger when Carl Hoefkens floated the ball in from the left but Parkin chested the ball down before turning his marker Mark Hudson 12 yards out and striking the ball into the far corner in one fluid movement.
And Tony Pulis' side doubled their advantage seven minutes later when Fuller - superb throughout - wriggled free on the left side of the area and drove powerfully beyond Gabor Kiraly and in off the despairing Hudson on the line.
Palace reduced the deficit in the 29th minute when Mark Kennedy's left-wing corner was headed powerfully back across goal by Leon Cort and Stoke defender Gabriel Zakuani could only head past his own goalkeeper from two yards out.
Stoke appeared buoyed by their superb 3-1 win at West Brom on Saturday and winger Liam Lawrence had the first effort on goal in just the fourth minute.
Fuller embarked on a trademark bustling run down the right channel and when Hudson's strong challenge sent the ball squirting free, Lawrence bent in a left-footed curler from the edge of the area which was comfortably held by Kiraly.
Fuller then skinned Carl Fletcher on the break to again sting the palms of Kiraly from outside the area before Parkin opened the scoring with his third goal in as many games since signing on loan from Hull to start a breathless 10 minutes of play.
Hendrie should have made it 3-1 in first-half stoppage time but after Lawrence squared to him unmarked just 10 yards out he shot tamely straight at Kiraly.
In the 55th minute Kennedy's wayward pass was intercepted by the sliding John Eustace and he fed Parkin inside the centre circle. Parkin released Fuller with a well-weighted through ball and after a tricky piece of footwork to evade Hudson's challenge the Jamaican fired in a rasping drive from the right-hand side of the penalty area which Kiraly palmed away for a corner.
Palace went close against the run of play just after the hour mark through Fletcher.
Tom Soares' left-wing cross found its way through to Paul Ifill at the far post and his stinging volley was parried out by the flying Simonsen. Home nerves were rattled when Lawrence contrived to somehow miss from a matter of inches in the 68th minute.
Again Fuller created the chance from nothing when he managed to hold off two defenders inside the area before backheeling to the onrushing Hendrie.
He mis-hit his effort across Kiraly but the ball was destined for the back of the net until Lawrence wildly swung at it on the line and amazingly turned it over.
Parkin then went close with an improvised overhead lob as Stoke held out through five minutes of stoppage time for a vital three points.