Stoke 0 Fulham 2: Chris of life for Cottagers boss Mark Hughes as Baird bags a double

28 December 2010 11:44
Fulham moved out of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone thanks to Chris Baird's early brace at Stoke.

Baird, who had never scored for the Cottagers before, struck twice from outside the area in the opening 10 minutes to lift some of the pressure on his manager Mark Hughes.

The Northern Ireland international was an unlikely goalscorer to seal an unlikely result, as the London outfit recorded their first away win in the league in 27 attempts.

Nice one son: Johnson gets a good view as Baird gives Fulham plenty to shout about with a fine goal

The Potters would have gone into the game feeling confident having already beaten Fulham three times in 2010, but it was the visitors who found themselves ahead after only four minutes.

Simon Davies sent in a cross from the left that was only partially cleared and it fell to Baird, who rifled in a bullet of a shot that Asmir Begovic could not prevent crashing in off the post.

The hosts tried to make a swift response and Robert Huth's shot sailed over, but Andrew Johnson had a chance to make it 2-0 soon after having wriggled through a crowd of players.

Johnson's effort was straight at Begovic, but moments later, Fulham had doubled their advantage, leaving Stoke and their supporters stunned.

Perhaps most surprised of all was the scorer himself, Baird again hitting the back of the net with a long-range strike, this time having been teed up by a free-kick awarded when Jermaine Pennant had brought down Davies.

Double team: Huth (left) and Wilkinson combine to deny Johnson as the Fulham striker tries his luck

The shell-shocked Potters attempted to regroup and slowly started to exert some pressure, with Kenwyne Jones narrowly heading over from a corner.

MATCH FACTSStoke: Begovic, Wilkinson (Wilson 79), Shawcross, Huth, Collins, Pennant, Whitehead, Delap, Etherington (Sanli 69), Walters (Fuller 55), Jones.

Subs Not Used: Sorensen, Higginbotham, Whelan, Gudjohnsen.

Booked: Huth.

Fulham: Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hangeland, Hughes, Baird, Davies, Murphy, Etuhu, Duff, Dempsey, Andrew Johnson.

Subs Not Used: Stockdale, Salcido, Gera, Kamara, Dikgacoi, Greening, Halliche.

Booked: Baird, Dempsey.

Goals: Baird 4, 10.

Att: 26,954

Ref: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire).

Dean Whitehead then lashed a shot over and protested that he had been impeded by a foul from Davies, but referee Kevin Friend waved the penalty appeals away.

Fulham were almost in again just after the half-hour mark after Begovic's kick went straight to a Fulham shirt, but Dickson Etuhu skewed his cross and the move broke down.

At the other end, Huth drilled a free-kick into the wall and Mark Schwarzer managed to collect the ball after Rory Delap had delivered a dangerous long throw into the box.

Just before the break Johnson was fed by Clint Dempsey but was denied by a last-ditch tackle from Ryan Shawcross, who then saw a header cleared off the line by Danny Murphy.

Stoke boss Tony Pulis, hoping togive his side fresh impetus in attack, brought on Ricardo Fuller forJon Walters 10 minutes into the second half and the Potters pressedforward.

The homesupporters cried out twice in quick succession that a Fulham player hadhandled in the box, but Friend judged neither Johnson nor BredeHangeland had been guilty of the offence.

Stokethen earned a free-kick in a useful position which Pennant curledoff-target and Jones rose high to meet a Danny Collins cross but couldnot guide his header the right side of the post.

Tuncay Sanli was next to be introduced to the action in place ofMatthew Etherington before the Potters went the closest yet to pullinga goal back.

Fullerlaid the ball to Huth, who hit a low effort that Schwarzer dived toblock. Pennant then saw his shot cannon off a defender as the hostsrealised it was not their day.

Little and large: Fulham midfielder Murphy challenges Stoke striker Jones at the Britannia Stadium

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Source: Daily_Mail