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Chris Baird touches home the winner from John Arne Riise's corner

Fulham’s late matchwinner Chris Baird was ‘chuffed’ with his late goal that guided Fulham past a dogged Aston Villa side at Craven Cottage earlier today – and admitted that the Whites weren’t quite themselves for much of the contest.

Baird made little attempt to hide his delight in front of the Sky cameras afterwards and his joy spilled over in the exuberant celebrations in front of the Hammersmith End after the goal too.

It’s fantastic. Really chuffed to get the goal for myself but obviously for the team as well as a vital three points for us. It was just frustrating for myself on a personal note and actually when I scored it all came out and we held on to eventually get the win.

Martin Jol’s side enjoyed far more of the possession and controlled long passages of the play but it took a typical near post run from the Northern Ireland international to break the deadlock with six minutes remaining, even if Baird was honest enough to reveal that John Arne Riise mishit the corner from which he scored. The Ballymena-born utility man was also candid about how the game appeared to be drifting towards a disappointing draw before his late strike.

It looked like they were going to frustrate us and it felt that way during the game. It was really frustrating for us as we couldn’t play our stuff but in the end, no matter how you play, if we get the win then we’ll not complain.

Three points is three points at the end of the day. Some games you play really well and you lose, or vice versa; you play badly and you win. Today, I just don’t think we were quite ourselves – I don’t know what the reasons were, but it’s three points and I’m happy for us.

Baird’s professionalism and resilience have seen him overcome a torrid start to his Fulham career and he’s now firmly established as a Craven Cottage favourite. It was fitting that the former Southampton man marked his 150th appearance with his third goal for the club after stepping into the midfield role once again having been on the fringes of the first team for much of Jol’s fifteen months in charge.

 It’s nice to hear the chants [of ‘We’ve got Bairdinho’ from the Fulham fans]. I was due a goal as obviously the two I scored were at Stoke [in December 2010]. I always make that front post run so I thought I’d try it again and luckily it fell for me, I got a good touch on it and it went in so I’m happy for myself and for the team.

Jol has always admired Baird’s qualities and is delighted with the 30 year-old’s verstaility that sees him able to deputise for more established names either across the back four or in midfield. The manager was full of praise for Baird’s qualities after another outstanding performance.

I explained that we needed a new identity in midfield and that he could help me and he did that because he’s a good football player. Last year he played right-back and centre-back but I’m very pleased that he’s so versatile and could do that job for us – he’s very important for us. He’s probably on top of his game and that’s what we needed today.

He’s doing so well and that means he’s always in consideration in my mind to play him because he’s becoming more and more important for us and that is good because my midfield must be good.

Baird himself believes the future’s bright down by the Thames, especially with the return from injury of the likes of Dimitar Berbatov and Mladen Petric, who were back in the starting line-up against Villa, and the swift recovery of Mahmadou Diarra, who replaced the Croatian forward after an hour and made a telling impact from the bench.

It bodes well. We’ve got a very strong squad now as there are players who had injuries coming back and doing well. That can only mean good things for us and good competition for everyone so it’s going to be a really good next couple of games for us.