Excited to get back to it – Lewes Women’s boss Booth ready for battle

Scott Booth says Lewes Women have become stronger in the mid-season Championship break – and are up for the battle to stay in the division as the second half of the campaign gets under way.
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The Rooks host Durham at the Dripping Pan on Sunday and are under no illusions they need to start winning to move away from the wrong end of the table.

Booth told the Lewes FC website: “Really excited to get back into it. A lot of big games coming up, and we’ve been preparing really hard for the second half of the season. We’ve obviously been able to bring in a few players, we’re much stronger, the players are back with the correct attitude and have definitely gone up a gear.

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“They’ve come back really, really well. Both mentally and physically ready for the challenge that’s ahead. No one’s hiding from it, we know each game is going to be a cup final for us, going to be tough. Each game’s going to be immensely competitive and we have to be ready for that. I think the fact we’ve strengthened will really help us.”

Scott Booth | Picture: James BoyesScott Booth | Picture: James Boyes
Scott Booth | Picture: James Boyes

New recruits Jacqui Hand and Lois Roche were first to arrive in the January window and Booth is delighted to have more depth. “They’re key, we’ve got with Lois, a lot more experience in the middle of the park, which is going to be really important for the run-in.

“Then also with Jacqui, she adds a lot of ability up top across the front position, so it just helps up the anti and gives the squad competitiveness that we were missing in the first half of the season. We hope to continue that by bringing in more. It means that we will have strength and depth, we will be able to go into games with a full complement of subs which will help influence the game more.

“The first part of the season we picked up a number of injuries and we had limited options from the bench to be honest. The players we did have though were excellent in their attitude, they all wanted to play, but now we have that extra edge of competitiveness. All the players know that we needed it and how important it was to bring new faces in.”

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Defender Hannah Godfrey has also joined, following the expiry of her contract from Charlton Athletic. The 26-year-old follows Roche in from the Addicks. She came through the youth ranks at Blackburn Rovers and Manchester City as well as playing University football for South Alabama Jaguars.

She signed for Tottenham Hotspur in July 2019, following their promotion to the WSL, where she made 19 league appearances until leaving for Charlton in 2021. Her performances for Spurs earned her a call up to Scotland for the first time in November 2019 where she scored on her debut in a 5-0 win over Albania.

Booth commented: “Hannah has been an excellent one for us to bring in because she’s got such good experience of Championship football as well as international football.

“She’s come in, shown us what she can do and just has a great mindset, great attitude. She’s both determined as a defender, but also equally good on the ball with her range of passing.”

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Booth admits this season has been a new type of challenge for him as a coach.

“I’ve had my fair share of winning trophies and winning games on a regular basis but football is about challenging yourself, and it’s certainly a challenge at Lewes. You learn a lot from these challenges, losing games, and how to win, how you want to change your mindset in a side.

“How you get them to be more hungry, to set those standards really high, so that’s the challenge, and it’s ongoing but I really believe the players have gone up a level. It’s been great that the club have helped us bring in and strengthen the squad. They understand the position we’re in and how important it is.”

There was a behind closed doors friendly against Chelsea U21s, a game which was crucial to get players minutes in. Booth said: “The friendly was really important, really competitive, a really young side of excellent young players. It brought something a bit different for us and it was certainly a worthwhile experience to go and play them.”

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The Durham game is the first of two league home games and Booth said: “It’s great to have a couple of home games, it will be good for us, especially with a freshened up squad but it does mean that these games are vitally important. We need to understand that in these games now we’ve got to take the points, it’s as simple as that, it’s home advantage and we’ve got to take it.”