TWO GOALS in the last 10 minutes finally broke Fulham's resistance after a second half of relentless pressure from the home side at the Britannia Stadium.
The Whites had battled gamely, but Jonathan Walters finally ended their bid for a fifth successive shut out and Rory Delap added a second for good measure seven minutes later.
Walters was on hand to touch home a low drive from Matthew Etherington from close range – the initial chance set up after a ball swung in from the right bounced into space off Peter Crouch and Brede Hangeland.
Delap scored with a far post header from an Etherington free-kick given away by Chris Baird – one of several Whites players booked as the pressure mounted in the second half.
Martin Jol's men could have few real complaints about the outcome as they posed no danger after the break – an encouraging first 45 minutes nowhere to be seen.
The Whites unluckily lost Moussa Dembele to a leg injury after 36 minutes and the Belgian had been playing well wide on the right. But Damien Duff could come on to retain the balance.
Fulham absorbed first half pressure without too much fuss, although on the stroke of half-time, they should have been a goal down when Jermaine Pennant supplied the one real moment of class in a humdrum 45 minutes.
The winger played a 1-2 with Peter Crouch which took out Aaron Hughes and Hangeland and the final dink past Mark Schwarzer really should have found the target rather than drift wide.
Crouch was his usual awkward self and twice caused Schwarzer to glower at him for robust challenges. The former Tottenham player also skewed a good chance wide when picked out by Pennant's cross – in that inimitably clumsy style of his.
But it was not all one-way and both John Arne Riise – from distance – and Bobby Zamora – glancing a Baird cross just wide – were not far away from giving Fulham the lead.
Of course, no Stoke bombardment would have been complete without Delap's long throw howitzers and they caused bother on two or three occasions – once with Schwarzer flapping at the ball and then spilling the rebound as it flew back up at him off Pennant's knee.
Delap also chipped a left footer onto a post as the home side cranked it up.
Danny Murphy was never far from the action. Booed throughout by home fans who have not forgotten last season's comments about their team's style of football, he got booked after a spat with Matthew Upson and cleared a Marc Wilson header off the line.
But within moments of being withdrawn by Jol, Stoke scored and there was no way back.
Fulham: Schwarzer; Baird, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise; Dembele (Duff 36), Murphy (Ethuhu 78), Sidwell, Dempsey; Johnson (Sa 84), Zamora. Subs not used: Etheridge, Kelly, Kasami, Briggs.