It was plenty of possession in the early stages of Sunday’s FA Cup fourth-round fixture for the Everton Women. The Blues had the first scoring opportunity of the game less than 10 minutes in when Izzy Christiansen found Claire Emslie on the left wing. The Scottish international cut back inside on her right foot, had her defender leaning back but missed the far post by inches.
In the 18’, Everton again were on the attack, hunting for goals. Academy graduate Grace Clinton, who this past week signed her first professional contract with the club, dinked a picturesque ball over Durham’s defense and into the path of Alisha Lehmann, but the Swiss international powered her shot over the net. Jill Scott then had a look on goal, launching a half-volley from point-blank range, but the attempt was off target.
After looking dominant in the first half, Everton opened the door for a Durham shot, which came against the run of play. A ferocious cross was whipped in from the left flank but left back Poppy Pattinson — filling in for the injured Danielle Turner — made a phenomenal block to keep the Cats off the board.
Despite controlling the first, Everton looked frazzled in the opening stage of the second half. Molly Sharpe broke free and looked to be in on net, only to lose the ball at her feet. The play looked to be gone, but Durham regained possession, and Sharpe found herself open at the top of the 18. The potent forward cracked a shot that rose and dipped over Sandy MacIver in net to put Durham ahead by one.
Clearly in need of a wake-up call, the Merseyside outfit responded within five minutes of Durham’s marker. Excellent build-up play saw Hayley Raso play a pass out wide to Nicoline Sørensen, who hit a cross that bounced off goalie Megan Borthwick’s hands and was tucked home by Pattinson.
For the remainder of the second, the Toffees attacked Durham’s backline in waves, never relenting. Christiansen shanked a shot from the top of the 18, and Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah played a teasing ball into the box — nobody got a foot on it.
In the 60’, Scott sent a header towards the net, only for the attempt to hit the wrong side of the post. Boye-Hlorkah, who was active off the bench, fired a long-range effort minutes later. A Megan Finnigan header from a corner kick was cleared off the line in the 85th minute by Abby Holmes.
With extra time looking like an inevitability entering stoppage time, Everton broke the deadlock through a superb bit of team play. Despite not playing their best, the Blues secured the win and advanced to the fifth round of the cup competition. They will face Chelsea on May 16th.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
After waiting 40 minutes for the second goal to arrive, Everton fans finally were rewarded in the 91st minute of Sunday’s affair. Jill Scott found Hayley Raso open on the left flank, and the dynamic winger strode toward the end line. Raso beat her defender and hit a cross that landed at Claire Emslie’s feet right in front of goal. And while the Scot missed the ball, Nicoline Sørensen was unmarked at the back post and all too happy to net the game-winner for her side. It was euphoria and pandemonium at Walton Hall Park as the Toffees punched their ticket to the fifth round.
Everton now go through to the fifth round but unfortunately will come up against a dangerous Chelsea side who lead the FA WSL by two points from Manchester City, and are in the Champions League semi-finals where they will meet Bayern Munich before they play Everton in the FA Cup.