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Hughes has last laugh

Mark Hughes branded himself and Tony Pulis "two daft Welshmen" after having the last laugh in their feud as Fulham completed a Premier League double over Stoke yesterday.

Hughes and Pulis fell out in September over an Andy Wilkinson tackle on Moussa Dembele, refusing to shake hands in that Carling Cup tie or in last month's league game at the Britannia Stadium. But despite another tempestuous affair between the two sides, the two managers buried the hatchet, pressing the flesh both before and after the Cottagers' 2-0 win yesterday.

"We were just two daft Welshmen a couple of weeks ago," said Hughes after watching Clint Dempsey's double edge his side closer to safety.

Fulham were full value for their victory, in which top scorer Dempsey netted his eighth and ninth goals of the season. The second came from the penalty spot after Ryan Shawcross had bundled over the American, earning a straight red card.

Pulis disputed the dismissal, saying: "It looked as though Dempsey was on the way down. The disappointing thing for me is they get the penalty, the kid gets sent off, and we lose him for two games. The punishment does not suit the crime there. It's not reckless or nasty."

Hughes hailed the contribution of Dempsey, saying: "Sometimes you think Clint's not having an impact on the game, but he's had a positive influence in virtually every game he's played, with goals created or scored."

The one downside for Hughes was injuries picked up by Dickson Etuhu and Aaron Hughes ahead of Wednesday's trip to Liverpool.

"Dickson must be a doubt on Wednesday, with tightness in his hamstring -- Aaron too," Hughes said. "We think Dickson might have damaged that hamstring. Aaron had more of a spasm."

Sunday Indo Sport