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Enfield Town 0 Lewes 3
Lewes maintained their 100% record in the South East Combination with a 3-0 away win over previously unbeaten Enfield.
A potentially tricky task was somewhat eased by the dismissal of experienced Enfield defender Claire Gooch, who was adjudged to have handled the ball in the area in the 38th minute. Naomi Cole scored the resulting penalty but the match was not settled till the final twenty minutes when two further goals in quick succession settled the outcome in favour of the Sussex club.
With ten straight wins and a goal difference of plus 66, Lewes had been sweeping all before them and their confidence was clear to see as they moved the ball around with crisp passing and broke up Enfield attacks efficiently in the opening phase. However, Enfield had won seven and drawn one to maintain the leaders in range and they defended calmly and generally denied Lewes the time and space to break through.
Tammy Waine was very busy in the Lewes attacks, having three attempts from distance around the twenty minute mark, though none forced a save from home keeper Kelly Cooper. Enfield went close in their first telling attack, Layla Young holding a close range effort from Sheree Oliver. A Waine corner nearly gave Lewes the lead, Enfield's Kelly Hughes clearing a dangerous loose ball before a Cole shot was blocked. Enfield had a promising free kick on the half hour but Young held Katie Wilding's shot.
The crucial incident of the match occured from a right wing free kick. A clever Waine set play released Joanne Gardiner, who sent over a low cross. Cooper dived to push the cross away and in the ensuing melee, the grounded Gooch made contact with the ball as it rolled towards the net. The referee gave the Enfield stalwart a red card and Cole scored from the resulting penalty.
Faced with a mountain to climb, Enfield gave a brave and committed display to keep the outcome in serious doubt for another half hour. Whilst Lewes exploited the extra space clinically at times to fashion a number of chances, Enfield created some promising situations of their own. Fine defending from Kelly Bourne on 50 minutes and a save from Cooper when Cole was through on goal kept Enfield in the game.
Holly Grogan, who had a fine match, clipped the Enfield bar with a superb volley from Stephanie O'Reilly's cross and it seemed that Enfield might defy the odds, as Sara Sinclair broke free on the right, but her cross just evaded Wilding at the far post.. Enfield's Leanne Mabey went close with a header from a free kick as Lewes were made aware that one goal was in no way decisive.
A touch of class from WSL loanee Cole gave Lewes the cushion of a two-goal lead on 73 minutes. Picking up a loose ball on the left edge of the area, Cole cut inside one challenge before drilling a crisp right foot shot beyond Cooper. Two minutes later, Gardiner turned home a corner from close range to make the points safe for Lewes. Another fine save by Cooper denied Cole a hat-trick but Enfield showed good spirit to try to reduce the deficit without success.
It was clear from a high quality match why these teams are where they are in the League. Lewes looked highly organised and carried genuine threats up front. Enfield looked capable of matching them in most areas but the numerical deficit eventually told on the hosts. Lewes now look firm favourites for promotion, though Norwich City and Enfield will hope to take advantage of any slip ups by the Rooks.
Enfield Town: Kelly Cooper, Kelly Bourne, Claire Pavett, Kelly Herrett, Claire Gooch, Kelly Hughes, Sheree Oliver, Beth Lovell, Leanne Mabey, Katie Wilding, Sara Sinclair. Subs: Holly Brandon, Lizzie Kent, Semma Halil, Beth Demery.
Lewes: Layla Young, Emma Wood, Stephanie O'Reilly, Lesley Smith, Stacey Baker, Kelly Newton, Tammy Waine, Charlotte Bennett, Naomi Cole, Holly Grogan, Joanna Gardiner. Subs: Camilla York, Stacey Arrowsmith, Andreia Veiga, Clare Trafford, Patricia Gower.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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