ANDREW VORCE - Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Clint Dempsey came off the bench to score a goal of a lifetime as Stoke edged Fulham while both Brads were left with cold feet as Aston Villa - Blackburn was postponed due to weather conditions.

Stoke City 3 - 2 Fulham

Clint Dempsey started from the bench as Stoke City got to an early lead to ensure that they move to the top half of the Premier League after beating back Fulham.

Tuncay Sanli got the Potters off to a dream start, nodding in the opener just 12 minutes into the game. Matthew Etherington's corner was met by Robert Huth, who flicked on his header to find Tuncay at the back post for the tap in.

With 34 minutes gone, Stoke went up again as Fulham put their defensive duties on hold to ball watch when Etherington stepped up to take a free kick. The shot was uncleared, and Abdoulaye Faye was left for an easy tap in at the back post.

Just three minutes later Fulham were given a mountain to climb with Stoke hitting their third through Mamady Sidibe. In a fluid passing motion ended at the feet of Sidibe, who's half volley dipped in front of Mark Schwarzer and into the Australians net.

Roy Hodgeson made two quick changes in the opening minutes of the second half, introducing Chris Smalling at the break and bringing the American on in the 55th. Damien Duff gave Fulham the lifeline it needed, with his fierce shot deflecting off of Ryan Shawcross leaving new goalkeeper Steve Simonsen completely stranded.

Dempsey scored one of the best goals of his life after a tedious midfield battle. The American won a header to put the ball into attack, and ended up latching onto a stunning 30 yard volley that caught Simonsen off his line in the 85th. Fulham were unable to equalize in the five added minutes, leaving Fulham stranded with no points from the encounter.

Faye was the only player booked as Fulham look to prepare themselves for a home test against the visiting Portsmouth on Saturday.


Brad Guzan and Brad Friedel were left waiting as Aston Villa's game against Blackburn was postponed due to weather conditions.