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Connor Roberts epitomised Swansea commitment – Steve Cooper

Swansea City v Rotherham United – Sky Bet Championship – Liberty Stadium
(Image credit: Nick Potts)

Swansea boss Steve Cooper hailed black-eyed matchwinner Connor Roberts for epitomising his side’s spirit during a 1-0 win at Nottingham Forest.

Despite being half-a-foot shorter than the towering 6ft 4in Sammy Ameobi, Roberts outjumped the Forest attacker at the far post to head in Andre Ayew’s 43rd-minute cross and seal the victory that moved his team up to fourth in the Championship table.

He also picked up a shiner in the process after clashing heads with Ameobi for the decisive goal that earned the Swans their first victory at the City Ground since 2006.

Of the Welsh international’s bravery, Cooper said: “Connor epitomised our performance today. We had our wing-back in the opposition box leaping over their 6ft 4in player, who is a really good player, and banging his head to get us a goal.

“He’s done that before and will do it for us again, even though he’s got a black eye from it.

“He has been excellent since we came back from lockdown and his challenge now is to just keep it going because he won’t want to look back at the end of the season and say ‘I had a great start to the season, but then it was a bit up and down’, but I don’t think that will happen with him.”

On his side’s first win on the road in five outings, Cooper added: “We came here with a real intention to take the game to them.

“That was the objective and to deliver a performance like we did was really, really good because, apart from the teams that have come down from the Premier League, they are one of the strongest clubs in terms of their resources.”

Forest went close to opening the scoring before Roberts’ goal as Lyle Taylor back-heeled narrowly wide and Anthony Knockaert forced Freddie Woodman into an impressive reflex save with his left boot.

But, after Roberts’ goal, Ayew went close with a spectacular overhead kick early in the second period and Knockaert’s shot would prove the hosts’ only on-target attempt of the afternoon.

Home boss Chris Hughton has now seen his 21st-placed team fail to net in three straight contests and is under no illusions about the team’s biggest current issue.

He said: “I am very disappointed because it was a game we shouldn’t have lost in terms of the balance of play, but they managed the game and defended really well. We had very good periods of possession, as we have been doing in most games, but we’ve got to capitalise on that and we’re not showing enough in the final third.

“The players are working hard enough, but we’ve got to make better decisions and maybe get that extra body into the box and show some quality when we do get in good areas. We’re also putting pressure on ourselves by conceding poor goals.”