Everton Women face fellow WSL side, Brighton & Hove Albion, on Sunday, March 28th at 9:30 a.m. EST/2:30 p.m. BST, with the game being played at Broadfield Stadium. With just six league matches remaining and Arsenal peaking, the Blues need to accrue as many points in winnable outings as possible. The Toffees end their season against Brighton (6th in the table), Aston Villa (10th), West Ham United (12th), Arsenal (4th) and last Manchester United (3rd). And while Manager Willie Kirk expressed a desire to take 15 of 15 points, nine is a more realistic tally.
In their last six fixtures, Everton boast a record of 2–2–2, with wins against Birmingham City and Tottenham accompanied by losses to Manchester City and Chelsea. In fifth place — five points behind Arsenal, who have a game in hand — the Toffees will need some luck to leap ahead of the North London outfit. Looking ahead, should Arsenal drop points in the coming weeks, the May 2nd meeting between the two sides will take on additional importance, as it could determine which team finishes in the top third of the league.
Brighton’s season has been one of expected results; they have the talent of a top-half team, and their results mostly reflect the strength of their squad. Mostly. The Gulls have played several “anomaly” games, including a 3–0 defeat to relegation scrappers Bristol City, but they also delivered the shock victory of the season when they handed Chelsea their first loss of the season, 2–1. The South Coast team could end the season as high as fifth but as low as eighth — they are nine points clear of Birmingham, who currently sit in ninth.
Ahead of Sunday’s affair, Everton will be without incumbent left back Danielle Turner, who will miss the final six matches of the season with a calf issue. Without Turner in the previous two fixtures, Kirk has deployed Poppy Pattinson and Gabby George at left back. As Ingrid Moe Wold also recovers from a foot injury, Hayley Raso has operated as the team’s right back for each of the past two contests.
Megan Finnigan and Rikke Sevecke are as good as locks at center back, Izzy Christiansen and Jill Scott should patrol the midfield and Valérie Gauvin is the clear-cut nine. Starting goalkeeper Sandy MacIver, who suffered a concussion two weeks ago against Birmingham, is back in training. However, should she not suit up, Tinja-Riikka Korpela is more than capable as a second option.
For Brighton, Megan Walsh should earn the start between the sticks, with Danique Kerkdijk lining up directly ahead of the netminder. The pair of Inessa Kaagman (leading scorer with six and a former Blue) and Megan Connolly (two goals and two assists) have forged a strong partnership in the middle of the pitch for the Seagulls. Rounding out the attack is dynamic midfielder Aileen Whelan, who is second on the team in goals scored with four.
Sunday’s meeting marks just the second time these two foes have met all season. They haven’t faced off since October 18th, a 2–2 draw that Brighton stole from Everton, who had played a much more complete game. A 78th-minute Aileen Whelan strike cost the Toffees three points and sent the Blues on a forgettable string of results for nearly two months. Here’s to hoping history doesn’t repeat itself come Sunday.
Competition: FA Women’s Super League
Date and start time: Sunday, March 28th at 7:30 a.m. ET/2:30 p.m. BST
Stadium: Broadfield Stadium, Crawley, England, United Kingdom
Capacity: 6,134 (behind closed doors)
How to Watch/Listen
TV & Radio: N/A
Match Center: evertontv
Live stream: evertontv (free for members, registration required), FA WSL (free, registration required)