Martin Jol admitted his side failed to get to grips with Stoke City’s up-and-at-them style in the first half of Saturday’s game.
Aside from an early Giorgos Karagounis effort, Fulham created little in the opening 45 minutes, going in 1-0 down at the break after Charlie Adam’s close-range strike.
The Whites were improved in the second period but despite enjoying long spells of possession, only Dimitar Berbatov tested Asmir Begovic with a fierce drive with 18 minutes to go.
“In the second half we did better,” said Jol afterwards. “In the first half we couldn’t get out of our half. We wanted to play but it was difficult. Then you get the long balls and they eat you up. They close you down, they pressurise you with their style and it’s not easy for us.
“They were the better team first half. They try to bully teams and they bullied us. We are always number one or two in the Fair Play League.”
The only goal of the game came in the 26th minute, Peter Crouch nodding Ryan Shotton’s cross into the path of Adam who couldn’t miss from five yards.
It was a goal Jol felt could have been avoided, with the Dutchman stating: “The goal was a long ball, a flick on, we didn’t track the runner and they scored an easy goal. We did better in the second half but it’s disappointing because normally we score goals, even away from home, but we couldn’t do that today.
“You have to get them on the back foot and play your football in their half. We did that in the second half but we needed lot of forward players to try and do that. It was disappointing that we still couldn’t score.
“You can’t let them force their style on you but that is what we let them do in the first half. I admire Stoke for their style. It’s not my style but it’s a style. Even Charlie Adam looked bigger than last year!”