Aston Villa maintained their unbeaten record and moved three points clear at the top of the FA Women’s Championship with a 1-0 win against Lewes.
Nadine Hanssen scored for the third league game in a row to condemn Fran Alonso’s Rooks to their ninth straight defeat in all competitions.
Faye Baker was the busier goalkeeper and made a smart save to deny Natalie Haigh after Lewes failed to clear a corner.
Villa hit the woodwork twice in one minute shortly afterwards as Hanssen grazed the bar before Marisa Ewers struck the post after Baker had saved Emma Follis’ effort with her feet.
Hanssen’s frustrating afternoon continued when she blasted two presentable opportunities from inside the area over the bar.
Melissa Johnson got in behind the visitors’ defence on the stroke of half-time and set up Emily Syme, but a combination of Ella Powell and Baker kept the scores level.
After missing another good chance on the volley, Hanssen redeemed herself in the second half when she nodded Follis’ free-kick into the far corner of the net.
The Dutchwoman threatened again, unleashing a shot from the edge of the area that Baker tipped over at full stretch.
Substitute Shania Hayles squandered a great chance to kill the game after being played in by Kerri Welsh but her shot trickled just wide.
The teenager missed again from close range late on following good work by Follis, but Gemma Davies’ side comfortably closed out the game against a blunt Lewes side.
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Aston Villa’s Jodie Hutton said: "We had to dig it out towards the end, we had to fight for it, but it was three points on the board and that’s all we want.
“At half-time we should have been 3-0 up, we had chances but just couldn’t finish. We knew that one chance was going to come and we ground out the result.
“When teams come down here we know they’re just going to park the bus, so we were going to have to grind it out and be patient, and it ended up working out in the end.
“In the last few games we’ve been letting goals in, so we were saying before the game that we need a clean sheet and we got that.
“Confidence is high at the minute and it’s good that it’s not just one person scoring. Everyone’s putting in a shift.
“We keep going, grinding the results out and see where we go at the end of the season.”
Lewes goalkeeper Faye Baker said: “We competed really well, we frustrated them. Going in at half-time 0-0 shows that we can match these teams.
“We were unlucky not to get a draw – I don’t think you would say they were the better team.
“For a team that have been scoring freely, have a lot of good forwards and goals coming from all over the pitch, it was really good that we frustrated them and kept the shots to a minimum.
“Hats off to the 10 girls in front of me – they were brilliant and kept it really tight.
“We were also quite good going forward and we had some good passages of play. We’ve got a lot of pace in the team so counter-attacks can suit us.
“We wanted to match them and show a bit of fight and a bit of desire, which you might say we’ve been lacking in the past couple of weeks, and I think we did that today.”
Aston Villa (4-2-3-1): Sian Rogers; Asmita Ale, Elisha N’Dow, Natalie Haigh, Jodie Hutton; Marisa Ewers, Nadine Hanssen; Emma Follis, Emily Syme, Sophie Haywood; Melissa Johnson
Substitutes: Kerri Welsh for Johnson 70, Shania Hayles for Haywood 80, Amy West for Syme 83
Substitutes not used: Daniela Kosinska, Jade Richards, Charlotte Greengrass
Goals: Hanssen 52
Red Cards: None
Lewes (4-2-3-1): Faye Baker; Sophie O’Rourke, Caitlin Hayes, Rhian Cleverly, Ella Powell; Filippa Savva, Ellie Noble; Danielle Lane, Jess King, Emily Donovan; Katie Rood
Substitutes: Emma Jones for Noble 46, Amy Taylor for Cleverly 69, Chloe Winchester for Rood 80
Substitutes not used: Laura Hartley, Annie Timoney, Ava Rowbotham
Bookings: Cleverly 32, Hayes 89
Red Cards: None
Referee: Magdalena Golba