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Everton Ladies lose to Liverpool after conceding thrice from set pieces

Not the way the Blues wanted to end their season

Everton Ladies may have beaten Liverpool twice already this season, but they finished their season with an away loss against the Reds. While Everton proved that they can come back from a deficit when they beat Reading 3-2, they couldn’t find a way to get back in the game today.

Manager Willie Kirk went with the same starting lineup as their win against Reading with striker Hannah Cain getting another start.

Lineup:

Kirstie Levell, Emma Brownlie, Siri Worm, Hannnah Cain, Danielle Turner, Abbey Stringer, Megan Finnigan, Angharad James, Inessa Kaagman, Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah, Simone Magill

Defender Georgia Brougham was back from injury and subbed into the game in the 58th minute for new Blue Emma Brownlie.

Despite 50/50 possession, Everton went down due to set pieces and lost 3-1.

In the 25th minute, Liverpool Women won a free kick in the attacking half. Former Blue Courtney Sweetman-Kirk connected with a header to make it 1-0:

Five minutes, later, Liverpool Women midfielder Amy Rodgers won a free kick in the defensive half, which resulted in Niamh Charles making it 2-0 for the Reds.

Before the second half, Everton Ladies won a corner and midfielder Abbey-Leigh Stringer made it 2-1 off of a left footed shot from very close range with an assist by Megan Finnigan. Stringer is six feet tall, so she should be quite the threat on set pieces, but this is the first time she’s ever scored for the Blues and it wasn’t even a header!

Liverpool sealed the win in the 87th minute after Everton goalie Kirstie Levell conceded a corner, allowing Rodgers’ shot from close range to make it 3-1.

Everton midfielder Angharad James told WSL.com after the game that while defending set-pieces was an issue earlier in the season, the Blues had been working on it and had improved until today:

”This week, we were great at defending set pieces in training but that always happens, when the pressure’s on in the game different things happen and we’ve conceded three – that’s very disappointing from our behalf and we’ll learn from it for next year.”

Liverpool Women set a season record at Prenton Park for an attendance of 1,842 fans today, which is closer to what the Top 3 teams (Arsenal, Man City and Chelsea) typically see. Compare that to the paltry 258 that showed up to support Everton back in December and it’s easy to see how small attendance rates may been a factor in the Blues’ poor results this season. Credit must be given to Liverpool for heavily marketing the game and providing a quality livestream via their Facebook page.

Everton Ladies finish their season in second to last place, which is the same exact spot they finished in last season but the numbers suggest that their form dipped. The Blues end with one more loss, scored four less goals and conceded eight more goals than last season (even with two more games played).

The 2019/2020 WSL season will have 12 teams with incoming Manchester United and Tottenham. Yeovil Town will be relegated to the Championship and Everton need to have an absolutely stellar off-season in order to make sure they don’t join them in a year. Last summer didn’t go so well for them after losing their star striker to Liverpool and their starting goalie to Chelsea and they paid the price with only three wins this season. It also bears mentioning that Everton lost twice to the team that is being relegated.

There were some positives to this season. Inessa Kaagman scored some absolute wonder goals. Chaney Boye-Hlorkah stepped up in the most difficult of games and ended up getting four goals. Gabby George and Simone Magill continued to be consistently good for Everton. Like last summer, teams with bigger wallets may be interested in Everton’s best players and the club will have to find ways to retain them while also attracting new talent.

Manager Kirk said before the game about how ending the season on a win would be helpful with recruitment. He also spoke previously about how something else would be really really helpful: money.

James emphasized after the loss that they have to take a long hard look at the squad and be really honest:

”That’s something for us to work on in pre-season – to get together as a group, bring new players in and change the dynamics of the team. Fundamentally, we’ve got everything here and it’s just putting it together. I’m sure Willie [Kirk] and the staff will do that.”

“We know we have to be better next year. We have to start the season better than this year, and end the season better than we have. We’re putting in the performances but the results are not going our way. But that’s not down to luck, because if it happens once you could say it’s unlucky but it’s happening nearly every week – it’s not unlucky, it’s that we’re not good enough right now and we’re very honest with ourselves.”

Kudos to James for telling it like it is: It’s not bad luck, it’s that they aren’t good enough to be in the first tier of English women’s football. After two underwhelming seasons, some serious work needs to be done to ensure that Everton will be competitive next season. Pay attention to this space this summer as we follow along because the transfer window maneuverings is going to speak for how important the club thinks the women’s team is.

Up the Toffees!