The grey Liverpool skies foretold how Everton would play against Brighton. Even in the team’s poorest game of the season, the Toffees still managed to earn a point. Certainly not the performance Head Coach Willie Kirk or his players demand of themselves, but the focus now turns to November 1st for the FA Cup Final at Wembley.
Dropping points at home leaves Everton in second place, two points behind Arsenal and ahead of Manchester United only on goal differential. With Chelsea not playing and Manchester City dropping points to Reading, Sunday was a missed opportunity to put some space between the other title contenders.
Everton started quickly but soon faded as the team never fully looked engaged in Sunday’s affair. Sloppy passes early led to an own goal in the 9th minute. Megan Finnigan gave away a foul in Everton’s defensive third, and on the ensuing set piece, former Blue Inessa Kaagman sent a curling cross that deflected off Rikke Sevecke and past a diving Sandy MacIver.
Down 1–0, Everton didn’t create many chances going forward, while Brighton’s high press made it difficult for the Toffees’ midfield and forwards to get involved.
In the 23’, Everton had their first good look at net, as Valérie Gauvin sent a pass to Claire Emslie, but a bit of quick defending by Danielle Bowman saw the shot blocked away from goal.
Everton capitalized on a bit of momentum in the 28th minute, when Izzy Christiansen’s set piece ricocheted off the Brighton wall and into the back of the net. In spite of the deflection, Christiansen’s shot was struck with an enormous amount of pace and power.
With the score level, both teams looked to attack, but no concrete chances were produced by either side. A 38th minute Everton counter attack led by Emslie and Ingrid Moe Wold led to a throw-in. Seconds later, Gauvin acrobatically flipped a shot over the net.
A mistake inside the Seagull’s box saw the ball drop to Emslie, but the Scottish winger was unable to punish Brighton’s blunder. That chance was followed by a late Damaris Egurrola header that sailed over the top of the net.
In the second half, Hayley Raso, who had had a quiet first, became more involved in the contest. She worked hard to run at Brighton’s defense in the middle of the pitch and on the wings.
With a bit of light needed on a grey day, it was Christiansen and Gauvin who ignited the switch. In the 71st, Christiansen sent in a short corner, which met Gauvin’s head; the Frenchwoman proceeded to flick the ball past Brighton goalkeeper Megan Walsh.
Less than 10 minutes later however, Brighton equalized on a superb bit of team passing — although the Everton defense was beaten far too easily. With the score levelled yet again, the game ended on the most atypical of notes.
In the 80th minute, Kayleigh Green was shown a second yellow but remained on the pitch. What should have been a red card and an Everton advantaged turned into a bit of disappointing decision-making by the referee. Even with a confounding decision, Everton have only themselves to blame for an uninspiring match.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
In the 88th minute, with Sevecke in possession, Everton sprang up the left-side of the field. The Danish defender played a ball into Turner, who played a quick pass to Christiansen, who took one touch out wide to Nicoline Sørensen. Sørensen waited for a second then laid a pass into the box where Turner had continued her run. Everton’s left-back took a hard shot that rang off the post. What would have been the game-winning goal ended as just another one of the Toffees’ missed opportunities.
1. Izzy Christiansen
Having played a part in both goals (one goal and one assist), Christiansen is rediscovering the form that made her one of Europe’s top midfielders just a few seasons ago. The best part, she says she isn’t even at 100-percent yet. Through eight games in all competitions, Christiansen has three goals and three assists. Her heat map (shown below) illustrates how vital she is to Willie Kirk’s side. She is a complete midfielder and the engine in the middle of the pitch for the Blues.
2. Valérie Gauvin
Despite serving in a substitute role at the beginning of the season, Gauvin has registered six goals (five in the league and one in the cup), while also contributing two league assists. Irrespective of Everton’s opposition, Gauvin finds a way to score. Her premier awareness and sprint-speed allow her to consistently get in front of defenders and get her head to the ball. Against Brighton, she redirected an Izzy Christiansen cross with so much power that Walsh, who got a hand on the shot, failed to keep the ball out of the net.
3. Hayley Raso
Raso continues to be the live-wire Everton rely on to create scoring chances. Whether it is creating in the middle of the field or flying down the wings, Raso’s speed and silky touch allow her to suck defenders in, then evade tackles to spring on the counter. Her link-up play with the likes of Gauvin, Simone Magill and Sørensen has been nothing short of immaculate, and the Australian has provided width on the flanks.
Everton (4-2-3-1): 1-Sandy MacIver; 2-Ingrid Moe Wold, 3-Danielle Turner (c), 20-Megan Finnigan, 22-Rikke Sevecke;12-Damaris Egurrola, 17-Lucy Graham (c); 8-Izzy Christiansen, 11- Claire Emslie, 16-Hayley Raso; 19-Valérie Gauvin
Substitutes: 14-Nicoline Sørensen for Emslie 63, 13-Abbey-Leigh Stringer for Damaris 77, 7-Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah for Gauvin 77
Unused Substitutes: 15-Molly Pike, 21-Maéva Clemaron, 23-Tinja-Riikka Korpela, 26-Grace Clinton, 30-Poppy Pattinson
Goals: Christiansen 28, Gauvin 71
Brighton (4-2-3-1): 1-Megan Walsh; 3-Felicity Gibbons, 4-Danielle Bowman, 5-Danique Kerkdijk, 6-Maya Le Tissier; 8-Megan Connolly, 12-Denise O’Sullivan; 7-Aileen Whelan, 10-Inessa Kaagman, 15-Kayleigh Green; 9-Lee Geum-Min
Substitutes: 23-Rianna Jarrett for Geum-Min 65
Unused Substitutes: 11-Nora Heroum, 13-Rebekah Stott, 16-Ellie Brazil, 18-Kirsty Barton, 19-Emily Simpkins, 25-Cecilie Fiskerstrand
Goals: Sevecke (OG) 9, Whelan 78
Bookings: Le Tissier 45, Green 48