Belfast Telegraph

Hughes savours rare away success

Fulham boss Mark Hughes believes his players may have achieved a "season-defining" result with their 2-0 victory at Stoke.

The Cottagers moved out of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone thanks to Chris Baird's early double at the Britannia Stadium, the Northern Ireland international striking twice from outside the area in the opening 10 minutes.

"There was real intensity to our focus before and during the game," Hughes said after Fulham's first away win away from home in the Premier League in 27 attempts. "We came here with frustration - that was the thing we were all feeling in terms of where we were sat in the league, but that helped our focus and I thought we were immense."

He added: "Everybody on the field of play was exceptional - big performances from every part of the team, and that is what you need. Maybe that has been lacking in away games, that intensity that you need and resolute mindset. So we set the standard in terms of that and it could be a season-defining win for us."

Hughes agreed with the suggestion that the result was a monkey off the back with regard to Fulham's away record and was delighted to see his players bounce back from their Boxing Day defeat against West Ham, after which speculation had grown that he could soon be facing the axe.

"This week it seems to have been me, next week it will be someone else - that is the nature of the job and we all accept it," Hughes said.

Hughes did not receive a handshake after the game from his opposite number Tony Pulis, something the 47-year-old believed was a reaction to how he had conducted himself at the end of the Carling Cup third round tie between Stoke and Fulham in September.

"He is probably getting his own back, because I did a similar thing last time in the League Cup because I was a little bit aggrieved one of his players (Andy Wilkinson) had taken out Moussa Dembele when it was unnecessary," Hughes said.

Pulis confirmed that to be the case.

"He has done it when we played in the League Cup and now I have done it back," Pulis said. "It's two Welshmen with a bit of competition. I certainly won't lose any sleep over it and I'm sure he won't."


From Belfast Telegraph