Scott Parker praised Bobby Decordova-Reid for being in the right place at the right time after his goal earned Fulham a 1-0 win at home to Stoke.
The victory lifted Fulham up to third in the Championship table and left the visitors fourth bottom and out of the relegation places on goal difference only.
Decordova-Reid struck in the 26th minute after Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland had parried a shot from Anthony Knockaert into the on-loan Cardiff forward’s path for a simple tap-in.
“Bobby is probably one of the only players who could have scored that goal,” said Fulham boss Parker.
“He anticipates things very well and always gets into the right areas. When the ball is in and around the box, nine times out of 10 he is there. His equalising goal against Luton was a similar one to today.”
That was a reference to the 3-3 draw at Kenilworth Road on Boxing Day that saw Decordova-Reid score twice, including in stoppage time.
Stoke threatened to do just that in this game but home goalkeeper Marek Rodak kept out a shot from James McClean and a header from Danny Batth in a frantic finish.
An equaliser would have been unjust though as Fulham had been the better side, especially in the first 45 minutes, and Parker admitted he was relieved.
“The be all and end all of today was to get the three points and I thought the first 45 minutes was the best I have seen us play all year,” he said.
“We were outstanding and limited them to very few chances as well as cutting them open and causing them problems.
“The only negative I had was that we didn’t go in more than one up. At half-time we knew Stoke would put us under pressure and we spoke about showing another side to us.
“We knew it might turn into a bit of a slugfest and it proved that way. What was most pleasing was that we did show that other side – sometimes I have doubted that this year.
“Third is a good place to be but in saying that, the way this league has been this year means the table can change very quickly.
“It’s a crazy league really and my main focus is carrying on putting points on the board as anything can happen.”
Both sides picked up injuries throughout the game and Stoke were unable to replace Ryan Shawcross late on following a calf muscle injury as they had already used three substitutes.
Stoke manager Michael O’Neill lamented his side’s poor start, and the Shawcross setback.
“In the first half we struggled a bit to get to the pace of the game, Fulham were a yard sharper than we were,” he said.
“We stopped them playing out from the back, which is what we had set out to do, but we didn’t win enough second balls to gain any momentum.
“We also conceded a number of free-kicks that I thought were remarkably soft.
“In the second half there was a marked improvement but we were effectively down to 10 men in the last 10 to 15 minutes because Ryan Shawcross was injured.
“I thought we deserved to take something from the game but we couldn’t manufacture that clear-cut chance to take something home with us.”
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