The loanee striker scored seven minutes from time to seal the Cottagers' first home Premier League win in eight games and haul them out of the bottom three
Pre-match build-up was focussed on Stoke manager Mark Hughes admitting that he regretted his departure from Fulham two years ago and his new side were twice denied penalty claims in the first half.
Robert Huth went on to miss two good headed chances and substitute Bent made him pay in the final 10 minutes with a simple finish as Fulham capped off the result with a first clean sheet in the league since February.
|VIEW FROM CRAVEN COTTAGE
|By Tim Poole
Martin Jol’s Fulham career seemed to be hanging by a thread until Darren Bent’s second-half winner against Stoke City on Saturday afternoon.
In a game devoid of any quality, the only presence of note was that of Sascha Riether, who cleared off the line twice before almost scoring following a 90-yard run.
Bent’s introduction changed all that, however, even if the forward did absolutely nothing outside of his winning goal. After turning in the box to fool Asmir Begovic, Bent's finish to send the ball gliding into the back of the net may be the most important of Jol’s time at Fulham.
Philippe Senderos, Damien Duff, Giorgos Karagounis and Bryan Ruiz came back into the side, replacing Kieran Richardson, Scott Parker, Alex Kacaniklic and Bent.
Stoke also suffered a home loss last time out, but Hughes only saw fit to bring Stephen Ireland and Matthew Etherington in for Kenwyne Jones and Charlie Adam.
Chances were rare in the opening stages, but Stoke were adamant that they should have been given a penalty in the 18th minute.
Ireland took the ball to byline before seemingly being tripped by Senderos, but the Swiss defender was not punished for his clumsy attempt.
Fulham fortunately avoided another penalty scare eight minutes later as Fernando Amorebieta clipped Jonathan Walters while falling but, much to Stoke's fury they only received a free-kick, which Marko Arnautovic wasted.
Sascha Riether saved Fulham with a crucial header off the line to deny Huth just before the half-hour mark, while the hosts' first meaningful attack did not arrive until the 37th minute as Steve Sidwell nodded Pajtim Kasami's cross well over the crossbar.
The second half started similarly to the first as both sides struggled to create chances, but Stoke once again looked the more likely.
Ireland was presented with a good chance in the 58th minute, but after Arnautovic's excellent through-ball into the area, Amorebieta made a crucial last-ditch tackle to save the hosts.
With 22 minutes to play, Fulham's attacking input had hardly improved and Stoke almost took the lead as Huth headed a corner just wide, before Ireland missed the target with a controlled volley.
Proceedings began to open up in the final 10 minutes, but Ruiz looked to have wasted the best chance as he shot straight at Asmir Begovic after coming in from the right.
However, Bent, on in the 66th minute, grabbed the winner when he pounced on a loose ball after Kasami's cross was partially blocked, and he fired into an empty net for Fulham's first league win since the opening weekend.