Rookettes extend lead at top of table

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LEWES LADIES extended their lead at the top of the South East Combination League with this 4-1 victory at Cambridge on Sunday.

The Rooks led 3-0 at the break thanks to a Naomi Cole brace and a Holly Grogan strike. And Cambridge’s brief hopes of a comeback in the second half were snuffed out just minutes after they pulled one back, when Clare Trafford tapped in from close range.

The result means that, with second-placed Norwich and third-placed Enfield both drawing, Lewes are now seven points clear of their nearest rivals with six games of the season left.

Having historically struggled against Cambridge, it was important for Lewes to start strongly – and they went close several times in the opening 20 minutes, through Tammy Waine, Trafford and Grogan.

It was hardly one way traffic, though, with the hosts also in an attacking mood.

And they forced Lewes keeper Layla Young into action before then sending a volley wide from close range.

Lewes took a deserved lead on 24 minutes with a 30-yard piledriver from Cole. And 10 minutes later the former Arsenal and Chelsea star grabbed her second when she nodded in from two yards after Grogan’s shot had rebounded off the bar.

Then, just before half time Grogan latched onto Cole’s pass and lashed a fierce shot into the top corner to give her side a three-goal cushion at the break.

A well-worked free kick two minutes into the second half saw Cambridge grab a goal back, but their hopes of a comeback were short-lived as Player of the Match Holly Hinshelwood’s strong run ended with her shot rebounding off the bar for Trafford to tap home.

Lewes then enjoyed their strongest period of the match as they found their passing rhythm against a fading opposition. Grogan and the tireless Waine went closest but were unable to find a way past the hosts’ keeper.

Lewes substitutes Kirstie Spice, Millie York and Andreia Veiga all came on and brought new options, and manager Jacquie Agnew was delighted to go home with the points: “I asked the team for a performance as well as a result, and they worked hard to make it happen,” she said. “Fantastic.”

Lewes Ladies, known with pride and affection as The Rookettes by their ever-growning band of fans are away to Crystal Palace this Sunday.

ROOKETTES: Layla Young, Holly Hinshelwood, Lel Smith, Stacy Baker, Steph O’Reilly (Millie York 75), Freddie Baker, Kelly Newton (c), Naomi Cole, Holly Grogan (Andreia Veiga 80), Clare Trafford (Kirsty Spice 70), Tammy Waine. SUBS NOT USED: Char Bennett, Emma Wood.