Barry Hayles and Philippe Albert scored the goals as Fulham saw off Northampton Town at Craven Cottage this afternoon – registering an eighth consecutive league win in the process.

Kevin Keegan’s side have responded to their defeat by promotion rivals Manchester City a fortnight ago with a blistering run of victories that have put them firmly in charge of the destiny of the Second Division title. Even their nearest challenges Preston pummelling Wrexham 5-0 didn’t hinder the Whites’ serene progress with Barry Hayles, who has become increasingly reliable in front of goal, opening the scoring against the struggling Cobblers.

Hayles hammered in his twelve goal of the season from Rufus Brevett’s cross after eighteen minutes to give the hosts a fitting reward for a strong start. Both the striker and the left back were denied by the brilliant Billy Turley in the Northampton goal, who kept Ian Atkins’ men in the contest until Philippe Albert headed his first Fulham goal twenty minutes from time. The Belgian powered home from close range after Paul Peschisolido had flicked on Finnan’s corner to make sure of the points.

Keegan is desperately trying to keep his side’s feet on the ground as they chase both promotion and FA Cup glory, with the Second Division pacesetters dreaming of adding a fourth name to their list of giantkillings this term when they head to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United in the FA Cup next month.

FULHAM (4-4-2): Taylor; Finnan, Brevett, Albert, Coleman; Bracewell, Smith, W. Collins, Trollope; Hayles (Peschisolido 65), Horsfield (Lehmann 81). Subs (not used): Keller.

GOALS: Hayles (18), Albert (70).

NORTHAMPTON TOWN (4-1-4-1): Turley; Howey (Hope 67), Frain, Simpson, Hill; Spedding; Savage, Peer, Gibb, Clarke; Lee. Subs (not used): Hunt, Freestone.

BOOKED: Peer, Howey.

REFEREE: Mark Halsey (Welwyn Garden City).