Belfast Telegraph

Rare Aaron Hughes goal little consolation for Fulham

By Graham Luney

it’s not only the weather that has taken us by surprise as 2010 draws to a chilly close.

Northern Ireland captain Aaron Hughes yesterday scored a goal for the first time in SIX years!

His festive cheer, though, soon evaporated into the bitterly cold west London air as West Ham sunk the Cottagers 3-1.

The Cookstown man, who hasn’t found the net since August 2004, headed home Simon Davies' cross in the 11th minute to give the home side the lead but Frederic Piquionne and a first Premier League brace from Carlton Cole ruined his fairtytale moment.

As Hughes’ goal drought came to an end, the Hammers ended their own tale of woe as it was the first three points the east Londoners have picked up away from Upton Park since August 2009.

The 31-year-old has never scored for Northern Ireland despite making 75 appearances but he’s doubled his Fulham tally after netting four times for Newcastle United in 205 appearances.

While thrilled to find the net again, Hughes is more concerned about goals being conceded.

Mark Hughes’ side have recorded only two victories in the Premier League this season and have now gone eight without a win.

However, the Northern Ireland skipper doesn’t believe a crisis in confidence is derailing them.

“We're disappointed with the situation we find ourselves in, but the confidence hasn't drained out of the side,” Hughes said.

“We still believe in each other and still know that we can put a lot of things right.

“There are still a lot of games in the next two weeks in quick succession and if we can get a little bit of momentum going, we can turn things around pretty quickly.”

Hughes admitted that sloppy defensive play gave the opposition their Hammer blow.

“The first half was strange because we were on top for most of it and then we conceded a couple of bad goals near the end and it's given us a mountain to climb,” added Hughes.

“It left us more open at the back and we just couldn't get ourselves back in the game.

“Once they got their noses in front, they just sat in behind the ball and tried to hit us on the counter.

“I wouldn't say we were unlucky, but the frustrating thing for us was they had three or four chances and scored three.”

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