Lewes Women move five points clear of Blackburn Rovers in the FA Women’s Championship
Visitors Lewes moved five points clear of Blackburn Rovers in the FA Women’s Championship as they emerged with a 3-0 victory.
The outcome was rarely in doubt as Rovers’ winless run in the Championship was extended to eight games.
Rovers made an encouraging start at their Bamber Bridge home, but by the interval it was Simon Parker’s Rooks who were in control.
Rovers defender Jade Richards went close early on when she headed Georgia Walters’ floated free-kick into the side-netting. Walters then fired narrowly off target from 25 yards.
The Rooks went in front from the spot after 14 minutes.
Natasha Fenton dragged Ini Umotong back following a neat free-kick routine, and the experienced striker got up off the deck to slot comfortably past Alex Brooks.
The visitors doubled their lead just over ten minutes later.
A cross from Lucy Ashworth-Clifford wasn’t cleared by the Rovers defence, and in darted skipper Rhian Cleverly to powerfully head past a flat-footed Brooks.
Shortly before the break Rovers almost halved the deficit when Elise Hughes’ header was smartly saved by Tatiana Saunders.
As the conditions worsened considerably in the second half, Rovers still struggled to make a breakthrough, though sub Aimee Hodgson went close and skipper Saffron Jordan was thwarted by an offside flag.
A moment of pure quality then sealed the Rooks’ victory with 20 minutes left.
Sub Danni Lane had only been on the field for nine minutes when she went on a classy solo run before burying a shot clinically from 20 yards.
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Blackburn manager Gemma Donnelly said: "Lewes fully deserved their win. We simply weren’t good enough.
“We had a game plan and we’d stuck to that up until the goal, but we were slow to react to the free-kick leading to the penalty and then you’re behind. The second goal then comes from a setpiece situation, and though the goalkeeper accepted responsibility for that, overall it’s not good enough.
“When you’re up against a team like Lewes that are notoriously difficult to break down, you’re then up against a wall at two behind. We were just so poor at setpieces in that first half.
“The plan for the second half was for us to be more attacking, and I thought we were. We showed much more intent and desire to get forward, but as the game becomes more stretched late on, they get a third goal.
“The only positives I can find is that all the girls carried on right through the 90 minutes. That shows character, but it’s just been a disappointing day all round.”
Lewes captain Rhian Cleverly: “We’re delighted with that result. We’ve been working really hard in training this week because we were so disappointed with last week’s result.
“We knew we can do a whole lot better, and I think that showed throughout the whole 90 minutes today. We showed a bit of everything.
“There was composure in that first half, and we put our chances away, and then in the second when they put us under as bit of pressure we showed great resilience.
“It was nice for me to get on the score-sheet. I was really pleased with my goal. I haven’t got a present for my mum yet, but that one was definitely for her!
"This makes our long trip home worthwhile, but we’ve got a couple of weeks before the next game now so we need to rest up before we go again.”
Blackburn: (4-2-3-1): Alex Brooks; Chelsey Jukes, Jade Richards, Hannah Coan, Charlotte Newsham; Natasha Fenton, Emma Doyle; Leah Embley, Elise Hughes, Georgia Walters; Saffron Jordan.
Substitutes: Ellie Fletcher (for Embley, 46), Aimee Hodgson (for Newsham, 46), Ali Johnson (for Walters, 71).
Substitutes not used:, Kayleigh McDonald, Isobel Dean, Meg Boydell, Emma Bradley, Ria Montgomery.
Bookings: Richards (70).
Lewes: (4-5-1): Tatian Saunders; Charley Boswell, Rhian Cleverly, Nicola Cousins, Sophie O’Rourke; Georigia Timms, Katie Rood, Mollie Rouse, Lucy Ashworth-Clifford, Zoe Cross; Ini Umotong.
Substitutes: Danni Lane (for Timms, 60), Simran Jhamat (for Ashworth-Clifford, 74), Ellie Hack (for Cross, 74), Megan Mackey (for Unotong, 86), Emma Jones (for Rood, 86).
Substitutes not used: Samantha Quayle, Filippa Savva.
Goals: Umotong (pen) 14, Cleverly 26, Lane 69.
Bookings: Cousins (40).
Referee: Magdalena Golba.
By Simon Smedley, Sportsbeat