Baird's unlikely double allows Hughes to breathe easily again

Stoke City 0 Fulham 2

Khaki was a strange colour for Fulham to choose for their away kit. In terms of bloodlust and tenacity their nearest military equivalent has been the concert party in It Ain't Half Hot Mum.

They came to the Potteries not having won away from Craven Cottage since August 2009 while a 3-1 defeat to West Ham United on Boxing Day had seen Mark Hughes take a significant step towards the brink.

And yet such has been the essential perversity of the season that two goals from a footballer who had not found the net in more than three years ensured Fulham would have the game comfortably under control before 10 minutes were up.

Not even when he was growing up at Ballymena United was Chris Baird known for his goalscoring, although Hughes was surprised when he was informed that these were his first for Fulham, a club he had joined in the summer of 2007. At the club's training ground, Motspur Park, Baird is consistently one of his best strikers of a football.

The Stoke City manager, Tony Pulis, thought both were saveable by a goalkeeper of Asmir Begovic's ability. There were just four minutes gone when Danny Collins only half-cleared Simon Davies's cross and Baird responded with a shot that Begovic could only tip on to the inside of the post and see the ricochet finish in the net.

The second was struck just as fiercely, hit low from a free-kick that Danny Murphy pushed to Andy Johnson who held it up for Baird to drive low into the left-hand corner of Begovic's goal. Those Fulham fans peering through the fog that had seen the Britannia's floodlights turned on before noon might have struggled to see it, but Fulham were 2-0 up and almost safe.

In this season of bizarre managerial dismissals you would hesitate to say the same about Hughes. The club were said to be anxious rather than panicky about their league position and Hughes had spoken to Fulham's chairman, Mohamed Al-Fayed on Monday. "This week it was me under pressure, next week it will be somebody else," he said.

"But, if we play like we did today, there will be no problems."

Stoke's response was surprisingly ineffectual for a club with such a fearsome reputation on its own pitch. Murphy, jeered constantly because of his unflattering comments about Stoke's uncompromising brand of football, headed off the line in the first half but Mark Schwarzer's first serious save came in the 71st minute.

Neither manager shook hands at the finish, a dispute between two men from opposite ends of Wales that goes back to a Carling Cup game here in September. Nobody really seemed that bothered and with the game obviously won the Fulham fans launched into a chorus of "Jingle Bells". Usually, there are so few of them that most could be accommodated in a one-horse open sleigh but this win may encourage more to take to the road.

Stoke City (4-4-2): Begovic; Wilkinson (Wilson 79), Shawcross, Huth, Collins; Pennant, Whitehead, Delap, Hetherington (Tuncay 69); Walters (Fuller 55), Jones. Substitutes not used Sorensen (gk), Higginbotham, Whelan, Gudjohnsen, Fuller.

Booked Huth.

Fulham (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Paintsil, Hangeland, Hughes, Baird; Davies, Murphy, Etuhu, Duff; Dempsey, Johnson. Substitutes not used Stockdale (gk), Salcido, Gera, Kamara, Dikgacoi, Greening, Halliche.

Booked Baird, Dempsey.

Man of the match Baird.

Referee K Friend (Leicestershire)

Att 26,954.

News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?