Bobby Decordova-Reid helped inspire Fulham to an impressive 3-0 victory over Stoke City on Saturday afternoon in the Sky Bet Championship.
The Whites and the Potters came into this clash locked on points in the league table but, unfortunately for the away side, a lot of the game showcased a gulf in class on the pitch, with Fulham’s attacking talents coming to the fore – most notably of all their no. 14 on the day.
Indeed, it was Decordova-Reid’s cross into Aleksandar Mitrovic five minutes into the game that set-up the first goal, with the Serbian – fresh from signing a new contract in the week – laying off for Harry Wilson to lash home, a fine way to mark his return for suspension.
A sign of things to come for the remainder of the afternoon, though Stoke did actually respond well to going behind and had some decent possession for a ten or so minute spell, though they never managed to get an equaliser.
Instead, the chances would continue to come at the other end, with Josef Bursik pulling off a number of fine stops in goal for the Potters.
After Decordova-Reid had flashed over, Jean Michael Seri and Fabio Carvalho saw their curled efforts saved, whilst a fine one-handed stop denied a Tosin header on the stroke of half-time.
Stoke had seen Josh Tymon eventually go closest for them after bursting away down the left but his shot was straight at Paulo Gazzaniga.
You felt that Stoke obviously had the capability to get into the game – they’ve started this season well after all – but Fulham’s extra quality told in the second half, as they managed to put the game beyond the Potters in a 20-minute spell after the break.
Decordova-Reid got a deserved goal, tapping home after Aleksandar Mitrovic’s shot was parried by Bursik and he’d then revert back to chief orchestrator as his deep cross just after 70 minutes found Harry Wilson, who managed to turn the ball into the path of the Serbian for the easiest of finishes.
Stoke manager Michael O’Neill will probably be a little upset the Potters couldn’t do more damage this afternoon but, ultimately, this match perhaps demonstrated why Fulham are expected to stay near the summit all season, and City are being tipped more as play-off dark horses.
Certainly, this is a good Stoke side that will give plenty headaches this season but Fulham just have that extra level of quality they can call upon – summed up incredibly well by the work of the triumvirate of Wilson, Mitrovic and, most notably this afternoon, Decordova-Reid – and that’s before you get to their options off of the bench.
A fine win for Fulham and a tough experience for Stoke – one Michael O’Neill will at least hope helps develop his young side further for the season ahead, he’ll at least take some solace from Bursik’s performance in particular with him saving a late Mitrovic penalty.
Both have had a good start to the campaign as we head into the international break, then, but it’s the Cottagers who will be happiest of all as September approaches.