Blues fans were rewarded with an entertaining game in a brand new home for Everton Women at Walton Hall Park even if it did end in a 3-2 loss for the hosts. The sold out crowd of 1,200* fans were witnesses to a near come back from the Blues, but will probably have to wait until next season to see if Everton Women can ever get a point against Manchester United.
Manager Willie Kirk is now 0-3 against his former team this season. The Red Devils beat the Blues 3-0 in November and then 3-1 in December so while they keep getting 3 goals scored against them, at least they are getting one more goal each time.
For the lineup, Kirk went with new signing Sandy MacIver in goal, perhaps to give her some more game time before she departs for the SheBelieves tournament in USA with the England Lionesses. For the first time this season, defender Gabby George wasn’t in the lineup and that was because she suffered an injury during the 5-0 Cup win against Bristol.
Everton (4-2-1-3): Sandy MacIver; Esme Morgan, Megan Finnigan, Kika van Es, Danielle Turner; Abbey Stringer, Maeva Clemaron; Lucy Graham; Inessa Kaagman, Chloe Kelly, Chaney Boye-Hlorkah
Substitutes: Hannah Cain for Kaagman 66, Simone Magill for Morgan 68, Taylor Hinds for Stringer 79
The Blues dug themselves in quite a hole by conceding twice in the first 30 minutes of the game. Both goals were scored by Manchester United forward Leah Galton.
Red Devils forward Ella Toone made it 3-0 in the second half and things were looking pretty grim for the Blues’ debut in their new home until defender Dan Turner scored a header off of a corner in the 67th minute.
In the 83rd minute, Captain Lucy Graham scored from Goodison Park a mile away from the looks of it:
The Blues never found an equalizer but fighting back from a 3-0 deficit to make it a more respectable result shows that this team continues to improve. And having 1,200* fans cheering them on certainly gives the team an extra push compared to the 200 fans that typically came out at their old stadium.
Turner spoke to FAWSL.com after the game about working hard to “inspire” fans to come back again:
“Once I got the first goal, you could hear the crowd and that gave us the momentum then. I thought we might even go on and grab a third but we weren’t quite meant to get the result.”
“It gave us a bit of a hope going into the second half, we knew we’d create chances. We gave it everything and getting the two goals made the last few minutes interesting but it wasn’t quite meant to be.”
Playing in a stadium more conveniently located and with a better environment benefits not only the fans but the players too. Now that the team can hear the cheers of the twelfth woman, that will help produce better results. Up the Toffees!
The team will be on international break, which includes England internationals Chloe Kelly and Sandy MacIver headed to the SheBelieves Cup in March, so stay tuned for that!
*While the club stated that the game was sold out at 1,200 capacity, FAWSL.com reported the actually attendance to be 893.