Let’s start with the positives, shall we? On a frostbitten afternoon in Liverpool, Jill Scott made her 150th Women’s Super League appearance. If only Everton could have followed that milestone with a win.
With the insertion of Scott into the starting lineup, Everton fielded one of their strongest teams of the campaign. The Toffees hung with United in the early moments of the game, but neither team settled into a rhythm. With the two sides trading possession, it was an ill-timed goalkeeper error from Sandy MacIver that gifted United the lead.
In the 9th minute, Everton’s goalie bobbled a cross and dropped the ball at the feet of Ella Toone for the game’s opening tally. The early goal tilted the momentum in favor of United, putting Everton on the back foot.
Christen Press, who led United’s attack for 80 minutes, easily beat Danielle Turner on the right wing but managed only a weak shot on target, which MacIver parried away with an outstretched foot. But it wasn’t just a case of the visitors having their way, time and again, Everton cheaply gave away possession in the middle of the pitch. Hayley Raso took far too many heavy touches, and Izzy Christiansen gave the ball away with poor passes.
Even with United threatening Everton’s goal for large portions of the first half, the Toffees had a handful of chances courtesy of Nicoline Sørensen — the Danish international tormented right back Kirsty Smith with her strength and pace on the left side of the field.
On the stroke of halftime, United doubled their lead. After a corner kick was cleared to the top of the 18, Hayley Ladd slid a pass between Everton’s backline to Press, who neatly tucked the ball past MacIver.
Staring down a two-goal deficit, it was Scott who led the charge at the beginning of the second — the England international hammered a long-range effort that forced a diving save from United goalie Mary Earps.
In a surprising move, Everton Manager Willie Kirk subbed off Raso only ten minutes into the half, a move that clearly upset the speedy winger. Her replacement was newly-acquired Alisha Lehmann, who injected an ounce of energy on the right flank.
Everton’s best chance came in the latter stages of the game: Scott found Ingrid Moe Wold, who had broken in behind United’s defense. Wold fizzed a low cross into the box, but second-half substitute Claire Emslie failed to make proper contact with the ball.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
United’s first goal, the one that sunk the Toffees. After conceding what is every goalie’s worst nightmare, Everton never were able to get back into the match. They dominated the stat sheet in every metric save shots on target, which would prove to be the difference on Sunday afternoon. The team clearly was deflated after the opening goal and could not recover.
1. Jill Scott
While it wasn’t the return she was hoping for, Scott easily was Everton’s most energetic and powerful player on the afternoon. She was a disruptive force, picking up a yellow card, and helped push the Toffees up the pitch. Though her loan is only through the end of the season, the sight of Scott back in blue was a welcome one. Good to have you back at Walton Hall, Jill Scott!
2. Ingrid Moe Wold
The unsung hero of nearly every Everton match this season, Wold is one of the key players to come through the summer transfer window, and not just for Everton. She excels at one-on-one defending, can work her team up the field and is dangerous crossing the ball in from the right side, all of which she did with aplomb against United.
3. Megan Finnigan/Rikke Sevecke
While the center-back tandem was caught out of position on United’s second goal, they otherwise put in a strong performance during their first game back together since Sevecke’s return from injury. While Finnigan has been a stalwart in the heart of defense all season long, Sevecke showed in her return that she hasn’t lost a step.
Everton (4-3-3): Sandy MacIver; Ingrid Moe Wold, Megan Finnigan, Rikke Sevecke, Danielle Turner; Izzy Christiansen, Jill Scott, Lucy Graham; Hayley Raso, Valérie Gauvin, Nicoline Sørensen.
Substitutes: Alisha Lehmann for Raso 56, Claire Emslie for Gauvin 72
Unused Substitutes: Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah, Simone Magill, Maéva Clemaron, Tinja-Riikka Korpela, Grace Clinton.
Bookings: Scott 39, Finnigan 88
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): Mary Earps; Kirsty Smith, Amy Turner, Millie Turner, Ona Batlle; Hayley Ladd, Katie Zelem; Ella Toone, Jackie Groenen, Leah Galton; Christen Press.
Substitutes: Jessica Sigsworth for Zelem 66, Kirsty Hanson for Press 81, Lauren James for Galton 81
Unused Substitutes: Francesca Bentley, Maria Thorisdóttir, Ivana Fuso, Jane Ross.
Goals: Toone 9, Press 41