A BRAVE woman fought off a robber by squirting him in the face with hair spray as he tried to steal her mobile phone.

The 21-year-old was hit in the face during the altercation after she was followed by the would-be thief in Church.

Police believe the incident may be linked to another attempted robbery in Accrington which happened less than 24 hours later.

In that incident a 38-year-old was attacked in an alley off Pembroke Street and threatened with a knife.

She got away by kicking her attacker in the shins.

Police said the first incident took place in Church Hall, at 9pm on Wednesday.

The victim was approached by a man as she locked up a property and threatened her.

The man demanded her phone and when she refused, he hit her. After using the hair spray the man ran from the scene.

Detective Sergeant Julie Cross said: “Fortunately, the woman was only left with minor injuries but this was an extremely distressing experience for her and has left her understandably shaken.

“I would appeal to anyone who may have been in the area around the time to come forward and contact us if they witnessed anything.”

In a second incident, the victim was attacked near Avenue Parade at about 6pm on Thursday.

The 38-year-old had left the chip shop and walked into Pembroke Street where she was pushed down an alley and threatened with a knife.

DS Ian Procter said: “She had noticed an Asian man as she left the chip shop and he followed her.

“Thankfully, she was able to kick him in the shins and he ran away.

“I am looking for assistance from anyone who may have information on this incident.

“We are not ruling out that the two incidents could be linked.”

The man in both attacks was described as Asian. The Church attacker was about five feet eleven inches tall, of muscular build and was wearing a tracksuit top and bottoms and had a dark scarf covering his face.

In Avenue Parade, the man was described as five feet four, of slim build and wearing dark clothing.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Accrington CID on 01254 353741 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.