A young Everton Women team that included nine changes from Wednesday night’s resounding victory over Tottenham Hotspur couldn’t prevent defeat by Durham Women FC.
Blues boss Brian Sorensen handed senior debuts to Abby Clarke and Annie Wilding, but it was an early Lily Crosthwaite that settled matters for the visitors and ensured that the Toffees finish fourth in Group A of the Continental Cup.
Changes aside, Everton started brightly and saw the majority of the ball in the opening ten minutes at Crosby.
But it was the visitors who went ahead after 15 minutes, Beth Hepple collecting a loose ball before driving at the hosts and finding Crosthwaite, who finished well.
Durham, now buoyant from the goal, nearly doubled their advantage when Hepple met a cross unmarked only to be prevented by Courtney Brosnan’s diving save.
The visitors then had to show they could defend as the half went on. Gio Queiroz tormented the the Durham rearguard down the right and her trickery led to some desperate defending which yielded a Clare Wheeler effort that was smartly saved by Naoisha McAloon.
Then came Everton’s best chance of the half. Leonie Maier linked up beautifully with Aggie Beever-Jones who, after collecting Maier’s pass, saw her curling her effort rattle off the upright and out for a goal-kick.
Taylor Howarth made her senior bow just after the break. Unfortunately it was at the expense of a Gio injury, after the Brazilian left the pitch walking gingerly following a knock before the break.
And it was the visitors who had the first chance of the half, Brosnan doing well to tip over Maria Farrugia’s long-range effort.
Everton did have chances of their own, the best falling to Izzy Christiansen, whose shot sailed over from a Karen Holmgaard lay off.
Jess Park and Aurora Galli were introduced in the final 15 minutes, but it was Christiansen that had the Blues’ final, and most dangerous chance, but the midfielder was denied at the death by a great double save from McAloon, as Durham held on for the win.
Although Sorensen and his team will undoubtedly be disappointed they couldn’t sign 2022 off with a win, the young talent within the squad and those stars coming through, 2023 will be exciting one for the Toffees.