Parker delighted with Fulham’s defensive improvement

Scott Parker was delighted with Fulham’s defensive display against a scrappy Stoke side as the Whites ended 2019 third in the league table.

Having dropped points away at Championship strugglers Luton on Boxing Day through some sloppy goals, the head coach praised his back line for their seventh clean sheet of the season after the 1-0 win.

“Full credit to the defenders this week,” Parker said. “Against Luton, they came in for a lot of criticism from me and my staff. We spoke about it after the game.

“Today, I thought they stood up like men. When it was time to roll your sleeves up, do the basics, and keep the ball out of the back of the net, they did that. So that was very pleasing.”

The home side, who recorded a third consecutive 1-0 league victory against the Potters at Craven Cottage, came out of the blocks quickly and put Stoke under plenty of pressure – racking up 72% possession but converting only one of their numerous chances, before the visitors finally got going in the second half.

Parker added: “I thought the first 45 minutes were the best I’ve seen us play all year. We were outstanding – the structure of our team and the positions were spot on. We limited them to very few chances and at the same time we cut them open and caused them a lot of problems.

“The only slight negative I have is that we didn’t go in [to the half-time break] more than one up. We knew that playing against this Stoke team, they were going to come and put us under pressure.

“We had to show another side to us, in the sense that this may not be the pretty football match that we made it in the first half, or have the control that we had – that it might turn into a bit of a slugfest, really. I think it proved that way.

“But what was most pleasing for me is that we showed that other side to us. Sometimes I doubted that a little bit this year when the game becomes a slog and we came up short.”