Jones – Performance had been coming
Stoke climb off the bottom after beating Fulham.
Relieved Stoke manager Nathan Jones believes he might just have found the formula to haul his struggling side away from the wrong end of the Championship table.
Goals from Tyrese Campbell and Lee Gregory saw Stoke claim their first home league win since the start of March.
Victory, the club’s second in a row, also meant Jones’ team finally lifted themselves off the basement.
No wonder the Welshman punched the air in delight and blew a big kiss to the sky as he finally tasted a home league victory since his team beat Nottingham Forest nearly eight months ago.
“It was relief, a bit of euphoria,” reflected Jones on his joyous celebrations with suffering Stoke supporters at the final whistle.
“It’s been a long time coming back-to-back wins – and so has a performance like that at home. It’s very pleasing.
“We haven’t been far off performances like that to be honest with you, but when you’re trying to set your stall out we’ve made big errors and things have gone against us, like sending offs.
“But we knew that would even out, it’s a case of coming through that period. We believe we’re coming through that period.”
Campbell fired the hosts ahead in the 16th minute with his first league goal for the club before strike-partner Gregory scored from the penalty spot after substitute Scott Hogan had been hauled down by keeper Marcus Bettinelli with 10 minutes remaining.
“We had less possession than we’d have liked, but we defended really well and I thought we were a real threat,” added Jones.
“Tactically we were good in how we played. They [Fulham] are a front-footed side and we knew there would be space behind, so that’s why we played two frontmen.
“We were 1-0 up at half-time and probably should have been up my more, but on clear-cut chances we deserved to be ahead.
“You always think ‘can we maintain that?’ When I first came here we’d take 1-0 and 2-0 leads into half-time, but we wouldn’t be able to build on it.
“We’re still a work-in-progress, but on the counter we were a real threat.”
Jones also took time to give special praise to Campbell who, in only his second league start, sparkled at the bet365 Stadium.
“I’m pleased for him,” praised Jones. “He has a lot of attributes which are very pleasing for a manager, especially with how we play.
“He’s got pace and the boy can finish. He’s had to be patient and trust us with his development, but now we’re starting to see a little bit.
“It would have been so easy for me to put Hogan in, but sometimes people just need a little bit of time.
“I’ve been criticised for changing but results have meant I’ve needed to tinker a little bit to find a formula. We believe we have found a formula.
“We’ve not stumbled on it, it’s something we’ve worked on it since pre-season.
“The level of performance from the players was very pleasing. It’s a good win, but it’s only a win and a step forward.
“We’re not going to get carried away with a win and suddenly everything is rosy and we’re out of the woods, because we’re not.
“But if you’d watched every game we’ve played we’d deserve far more.
“So it’s nice to see a 90 minutes performance because it’s been little things which have hampered us.
“We’ve not been ripped apart from Leeds, we don’t get battered.
“We felt we were in a false position and the points were coming if we could just eradicate errors and the rub of the green levels itself out. Suddenly we built a performance.”
Fulham boss Scott Parker was disappointed with defeat as it ended his side’s impressive six-game unbeaten run, but stressed it was only a blip in their promotion charge.
“We’ll dust ourselves down,” stressed Parker. “This a young squad which has been put together and along the way there’s going to be a few bumps.
“It’s [defeat] not a head-on collision and it’s not something which is a real massive issue, but it’s a bump, which is going to happen.
“How we bounce back from this will ultimately determine how we do this year.
“That’s the challenge now, we have to come back fighting. That’s the only thing you can do.
“It’s one football match and we have to go again.”
Parker added: “We’re disappointed, but the nuts and bolts of it were that we weren’t clinical enough in both boxes.
“In the first half, certainly, I felt we lacked a real impetus as an attacking threat.
“We controlled the game, but we knew we’d have to because they’d [Stoke] come off the back of a good result against a good side [Swansea – before the international break].
“This team is sitting at the bottom of the league, but it’s a team that has got players that have played in the Championship League and Premier League pedigree.
“We spoke about it before the game, they are in a false position in the table.
“In the second half we addressed the impetus and we were more progressive, but on saying that two long balls have cost us.
“We defended poorly and we weren’t clinical enough when we had our moments.
“The international break probably came at the wrong time for us. We were six games unbeaten and the break has stalled that momentum.
“We had a bad result but the games come thick and fast in this league. This league is very indifferent, we’ve seen that.
“It can be very inconsistent and we’re part of that, no doubt. There isn’t really any one team who are taking the league by storm.
“But we’ve got Luton on Wednesday night, which a big game for us, then Middlesbrough. We go again.”