Last time Everton Ladies played Manchester City was in September and Andy Spence was still manager. Even though the Blues had kept it close with City during the 2017/2018 season, they suffered a 4-0 loss in the beginning of this season.
New manager Willie Kirk went with quite a few lineup changes this time around: Abbey Leigh-Stringer, Emma Brownlie, and Chaney Boye-Hlorkah got starts. Claudia Walker is on loan to Birmingham City and was a sub in their game against Brighton Wednesday night. Notably missing from the lineup were Chloe Kelly and Hannah Cain. Elise Hughes and Olivia Chance missed out through injury.
Everton lineup today vs in Sept 2018, when former manager Andy Spence lost 4-0 to Man City. Stringer and new player Brownlie get starts. Man City has mercifully started Nikita Parris on the bench (she scored a brace last time). pic.twitter.com/XdqvkVrYwW— Rachel Rose Gold (@RachelRoseGold_) February 20, 2019
Boye-Hlorkah definitely used the opportunity to make her case for more regular starts when she scored only 12 minutes in. Her work rate was incredible, making herself a nuisance to City’s backline. When City keeper Ellie Roebuck tried to make a clearance, Boye-Hlorkah was there to block it, turn and then expertly passed the ball into the net:
Everton continued to put on an impressive defensive display, holding the 1-0 lead over the WSL leaders for the entire first half.
Man City started the second half off with midfielder Keira Walsh equalising from almost 20 yards out:
Everton defender and England international Gabby George went down with an injury in the 54th minute, and was subbed off for Siri Worm.
A minute later, Janine Beckie made it 2-1 with a header off of a corner kick:
Manager Willie Kirk gave the WSL website an update on George after the game:
“Gabby George has a niggle that she’s had for a while now. She’s not going to the She Believes Cup, so she’ll get a few weeks now. We will rehab it and get her pain free by West Ham.”
City continued to dominate possession but Boye-Hlorkah and Inessa Kaagman continued to take their shots. Everton took 10 shots the entire game, which is 3 more than the last time they played City.
Nikita Parris made it 3-1 for City off a breakaway in the last minutes of the game. Man City remain the WSL leaders, with Everton in 2nd to last place.
Despite the scoreline, Kirk was pleased and stated in his post match statements that it was “easily a top six performance.”
“We are at the start of a long journey. We have come into a changing room with not a lot of confidence, but a lot of ability.
Everton Ladies showed they have a lot of fight and for 45 minutes, they were winning against the top team in the WSL. That’s progress!
Everton have 7 games left in the season, including against some of the best teams in the league. They also have an absolute must-win match against relegation-threatened Yeovil Town on March 31st. If the Blues win that one, they will most likely survive to see another season in the league.
Kirk is not too keen on the WSL schedule this season:
“We had four games in my first two weeks and now we have got four games in two months.”
“The inconsistency of the fixture list isn’t helping us, but I’ve seen the schedule for next year and it’s much more consistent and positive.”
Possession: Everton: 39%, Man City 61%
Shots: Everton: 10, Man City: 15
Shots on Target: Everton: 3, Man City: 6
Corners: Everton: 5, Man City: 11