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Ayite helps Fulham bounce back

Floyd Ayite scored his third goal in four days as Fulham beat Ipswich 3-1 to maintain their play-off push.

Ayite opened the scoring for the Cottagers in the 17th minute before Scott Malone doubled their advantage on the half-hour mark and Stefan Johansen made the game safe in the second half. Christophe Berra’s injury-time header proved to be only scant consolation for Ipswich.

Manager Slavisa Jokanovic responded to his side losing 4-2 at Derby by replacing much-criticised ‘keeper David Button for Marcus Bettinelli, while Tim Ream lost out to Michael Madl.

For Ipswich, Mick McCarthy made one replacement from the side that beat Wigan 3-0 with Tommy Smith replacing the injured Steven Taylor.

The home side started the game on the front foot, with an intent to attack, and they took the lead after 17 minutes. Ipswich goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski was forced into a fine save from a low Chris Martin shot, before Ayite netted his third goal in four days from the rebound.

Ipswich struggled to get into the game, their first effort being a 28th-minute shot from Freddie Sears which hit the side netting after a break from the halfway line. Fulham doubled the lead two minutes later, when Malone was left unchallenged in the area to curl his effort home past Bialkowski.

The home side were still looking for a third strike, and Bialkowski had to be equal to a 39th-minute curler from the edge of the box by Kevin McDonald. David McGoldrick put his effort wide on the stroke of half-time for the visitors, who toiled in the Craven Cottage sunshine.

After his recovery from a groin injury, Tom Lawrence was put on in the second half for Ipswich, with Tommy Smith making way.

However, it was Fulham who had the first effort of note in the second half, when a free kick by Ayite on 50 minutes rattled the crossbar. Bettinelli was forced into action on 53 minutes with a fantastic point-blank save with his foot, after Sears collected a rolled pass from McGoldrick.

The game was effectively over on the hour mark, although not before the Fulham goalkeeper had to keep out a McGoldrick drive, when Johansen found space in the box, before turning inside and slotting home.

Bialkowski had to hold another curling effort from Ayite on 65 minutes, although the game was to settle into a pattern where the hosts were more than comfortable.

Ayite was substituted to a rousing reception on 86 minutes, with Neeskens Kebano replacing him. However, despite a Berra header in injury time for Ipswich, the west London outfit ran out deserved winners – and kept their play-off hopes alive.

I’m adjusting to the English game, says Ayite

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Floyd Ayite feels he is slowly adjusting to English football – and believes picking up more of the language has really helped.

The Togo international has had to get used to the rough and tumble of the English game but has given great credit to Slavisa Jokanovic and the rest of the Fulham coaching staff for helping him settle in. The 28 year-old was disappointed to miss a number of excellent chances to wrap the game up at Ipswich on Boxing Day, but his impact at Craven Cottage in recent weeks has been shown by a return of four goals in as many games.

Ayite told GetWestLondon after the win at the Portman Road:

There is a more aggressive way in the English game in terms of challenges and the speed at which the game is played. But it is not a matter of needing to be fitter to play in England, more a question of adaptation and listening to your coaches. I’m feeling a lot better about the challenge and that I am making progress all the time.

When you play on the pitch there are certain codes that you understand as football is a global language. But I would rather speak English a lot better and I feel I am making progress with this every day now.

Nantes plotting audacious Ayite move

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Nantes are planning to table an audacious January bid for Fulham winger Floyd Ayite, according to various reports in France this afternoon.

The Togo international has only been at Craven Cottage for six months after signing from Bastia in the summer and has enjoyed an excellent start to his Fulham career, scoring four goals in his last three outings. Fulham would give short shrift to any attempt to prize their in-form winger away from London and the 28 year-old forward told the Football League paper only last week how much he was enjoying life at his new club and was determined to help the Whites return to the top flight.

Nantes are actively seeking alternatives to former Fulham winger Alex Kacaniklic, who has only managed ten appearances signing leaving Craven Cottage on a free transfer last summer, and may also be actively interested in signing Bournemouth’s Max Gradel. Ayite, who is under contract with Fulham until the summer of 2019, is shortly due to fly out to Gabon to represent Togo in the African Cup of Nations.

Ayite: Fulham are one of the best sides to watch

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Fulham are one of the best sides to watch in the country according to Floyd Ayite, but need to tighten up at the back in order to keep pace with the Championship’s top six.

The Togolese winger scored his fourth goal for the Whites in a pulsating 2-2 draw with Derby County yesterday, but speaking before that match to the Football League Paper, Ayite insisted the Londoners can return to the top flight by continuing the excellent form that has seen them move closer towards the play-off places. The former Bastia man is convinced that they need to become more miserly in defence, however, if they are to achieve Slavisa Jokanovic’s ultimate goal of promotion.

The 28 year-old, speaking through a translator, said:

We are the second highest scores in the division. We score a lot of goals and this shows we play good football. Sometimes, though, we are a little bit open and that is something we need to consider. We concede a lot of goals and now we have to find the right balance between attacking and defending. If we can, this will show we are an effective side.

Once we have worked on this problems, we can look ahead and be positive about the future and the rest of the season. I think we are one of the best sides who plays really good football and I think we have a very good chance of reaching the top six. If we can continue to attack like we did, we have a very good chance.

Ayite admits that he has been surprised with how easily he has settled in London, although he is still wrestling with the language.

I am making progress with my English every day. It isn’t easy. There are certain codes which you understand on the pitch and I still prefer to do interviews in French at the moment, so I can explain properly. I came here to experience this great thing [English football] and I am so happy I have been so warmly welcomed by the fans since I arrived.

I am equally as happy that I have been able to give something back to them. My goal is to take the team back to the Premier League. It’s where I want to play and it’s where Fulham want to play.

Ayite happy for Fulham to float under the radar

Floyd Ayite feels Fulham might benefit from sitting in mid-table at this stage of the season as they can float under the radar whilst building the momentum for a promotion push.

Slavisa Jokanovic’s side go into Saturday’s clash with Derby County in tenth place with the Championship’s top section very congested after a full programme of matches in midweek. Ayite’s goals have helped the Whites pick up four points in their last two games and he believes that being below the top six could count in Fulham’s favour at the moment.

Speaking to GetWestLondon after his third Fulham goal clinched a tense victory over bottom of the table Rotherham United, the Togolese international said:

You may be right that it is sometimes better to do the chasing rather than be chased. At the end of the day we are all professional footballers and it is up to us to manage the pressure really – that is our job whether you are just outside or in the playoff positions.

The winger felt he should have scored just before half time when a sensational piece of skill took him away from a Millers defender, but Lewis Prize blocked his shot.

We really pushed in the first half as we wanted to get a foothold in the game very quickly and I feel I slightly missed my chances. Fortunately, in the second half I was able to get the important goal.