Belfast Telegraph

Blasting Fulham up the table is Baird’s new goal

By Graham Luney

Northern Ireland international Chris Baird hasn’t been able to remove the smile from his face after smashing in his first goals for Fulham.

The defender bagged a stunning brace at the Britannia Stadium to bury Stoke City 2-0 on Tuesday and ease the pressure on under-fire Cottagers boss Mark Hughes.

The Rasharkin man — perhaps inspired by international and club team-mate Aaron Hughes’ rare goal against West Ham on Sunday — conjured up two moments of individual brilliance to bring Fulham some much needed end of year cheer.

“I’m delighted, my first goals for Fulham. The first one, I couldn’t have hit any better,” Baird said.

“The second one, I knew I was going to take right from the start as soon as we got the free kick, thankfully it went in for me.

“I was going to smash it as hard as I could and hope for the best and I’m just delighted to get two goals.”

The pressure was mounting on Fulham as a 3-1 defeat at home to relegation rivals West Ham saw them slide into the bottom three. Hughes’ defence came in for fierce criticism so Baird thought the appropriate response was to dust down his shooting boots.

“It’s been a tough time for us of late, we’ve not kept many clean sheets in the past few games but we’re delighted, especially coming here to Stoke where you’re always going to be under a lot of pressure, they’re a good team,” he added.

“I thought we dealt with it unbelievably well and we’re just glad to get a clean sheet and three points. When you drop into the bottom three it’s not nice but thankfully we got the three points. Hopefully it will lift us out of the bottom three and we can get a good run together and stay out of there.”

Fulham now occupy 16th place in the Premier League and the 28-year-old added: “There's plenty more points to play for and I'm sure that we can climb up the table and be safe.”

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