Swansea City's Andre Ayew. Pic: Getty Images.

Cometh The Last Minute, Cometh The Swansea City Iceman . . . Andre Ayew

By Paul Jones

Freddie Woodman is happy he doesn’t have to face the teammate he calls The Iceman.

The Swansea City goalkeeper has earned rave reviews this season for keeping 17 clan sheets in the Championship, but is the first to admit the goals provided by Ghanaian talisman Andre Ayew have done just as much to keep the Swans flying high in the promotion race.

Twice last week Woodman was watching from the end of the pitch as Ayew stepped up to take penalties in the 96th and 97th minutes of the games against Stoke City and Middlesbrough.

On both occasion he hit the back of the net to secure 2-1 victories.

Ayew also scored from normal play in the win over Middlesbrough and has hit 13 to date this season.

No wonder Woodman is hoping for a few more from him at Blackburn Rovers tonight as the Swans look to move into an automatic promotion spot.

Combined with Woodman’s clean sheets those priceless goals ensured the Swans moved up to third in the Championship table, one point behind second-placed Watford with two games in hand.

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“Andre’s got ice in his veins, that’s the joke going around in the dressing room,” said Woodman.

“We actually spoke about penalties. I’m always intrigued by what the players do and I study penalties quite heavily, but he’s changing all the time and doing something different.

“On Saturday, he decided to go down the middle, which is the worst for a goalkeeper. Huddersfield’s Ben Hamer faced one of his penalties earlier this season and said that it’s impossible.

“You can’t get a push off because he’s still stuttering and waiting for the goalkeeper to move. It’s very difficult to read and make a proper dive, so credit to him – he’s the guy that we’re relying on at the minute.”

With only one miss against his name since taking on the spot kick role in the 2019-20 season Ayew can boast a nine out of 10 record, with his only failure coming in the 1-0 first leg play-off victory over Brentford last season.

“It’s not just about Andre’s penalties. The fans will see the goals that he scores, but he’s a leader behind the scenes and fantastic to have around the place,” added Woodman.

“I feel like I’ve learned so much off him and he’s great at getting the best out of the players around him.”

The Swans are currently one place and one point behind second-placed Watford with two games in hand.

 

This fixture in Lancashire represents one of those games in hand, having been postponed from its original date back in January due to a waterlogged pitch.

The Swans have won three of their last four games but face a Rovers side who ended a seven-match winless streak with victory at Millwall on the weekend.

Ayew, though, believes the team spirit running through the squad at present – exemplified by those two most recent late victories – should give Steve Cooper’s men plenty of confidence they can make it three wins on the bounce.

“The team has shown tremendous togetherness, and the unity within this group is strong,” said Ayew.

“It’s something that has served us well this season, and it will be really important for the remaining 13 games.

“I’ve been part of teams where the unity has been strong but it wasn’t enough to get results. This team is showing that we have a strong team spirit and we have the right attitude and mentality to get us over the line in games where we are not at our best.

 

“The type of results we got last week are huge. Two wins in a week that have come in stoppage time – these are results that make a massive difference in the table.

“At Stoke we kept going, and against Middlesbrough we showed the right attitude despite them equalising in additional time.

“It shows there is a good mentality in this team, and good team spirit as we are all pushing in the right direction and have the same focus.”

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