A brace from Barry Hayles helped Fulham to a resounding win over struggling Stockport County at Craven Cottage this evening.

The Whites kept their play-off aspirations on track with a 4-1 win over the Hatters and the returning Hayles didn’t take long to break the deadlock. He guided his first into an unguarded net on eleven minutes reacting quickest after Lee Clark, who had scored twice in the 3-1 win over Port Vale on Saturday, had raced clear of a horribly square Stockport defence to latch onto a lofted ball from Chris Coleman and smash a low shot against the near post from a tight angle.

Bjarne Goldbaek made it two with a fabulous free-kick from 23 yards seven minutes into the second half, curling his effort around the wall and into the far corner – past an unsighted Carlo Nash. The Danish winger then unlocked the Stockport defence with a precise through ball for Fulham’s third. He sent Clark scampering clear down the right flank and the midfielder’s cross cut back gave Hayles the simplest of tasks to slot home from ten yards for his second of the evening.

The visitors did score from the spot through Tony Dining but wing-back Steve Finnan’s deflected effort from outside the box rounded off the scoring with twenty minutes to play.

FULHAM (5-4-1): Taylor; Finnan, Phelan, Morgan, Melville, Coleman; Ball, Hayward, Goldbaek, Clark (Davis 72); Hayles (W. Collins 85). Subs (not used): Hahnemman, Symons, Trollope.

GOALS: Hayles (11, 65), Goldbaek (52), Finnan (70).

STOCKPORT COUNTY (3-5-2): Nash; Flynn, Elliott (Connelly 45), Woodthorpe; Dining, Gibb (Byrne 64), Fradin, Bennett, Cooper; Lawson, Wilbraham (Thomas-Moore 57). Subs (not used): Allen, Gray.

BOOKED: Fradin.

GOAL: Dining (pen 63).

REFEREE: Steve Bennett (Kent).