After just 95 days, 10 games and one league win, Everton parted ways with Manager Jean-Luc Vasseur last week. Vasseur was let go after leading his side to a 4-0 victory in the FA Cup, a curious choice considering most managers get the axe after a loss. Still, the Frenchman never managed to get the best out of a talented yet underperforming squad.
In his stead, Chris Roberts was named interim manager. In his first game in charge of the Blues, Roberts failed to coach his team to a win despite improved play on the pitch.
The Merseyside club enjoyed a dream start; five minutes in, forward Anna Anvegard redirected a shot from Claire Emslie, who had charged in off of a corner, for the fixture’s opening tally.
The ensuing celebration told the story of a club struggling to find its footing. After the ball hit the back netting, Emslie let out a forceful scream and punched her fist into the air. With her teammates surrounding her, it felt like the demons of the season were about to be exorcised. And throughout much of the first half, Everton maintained its strong start. Save one chance in the final minutes of the half, Reading defended for much of the frame.
The turning point came minutes into the second half. Italian midfielder Aurora Galli played a ball into the 18, and the pass connected with a defender’s hand, earning the Toffees a clear penalty. Captain Izzy Christiansen stepped up to the spot, aimed for the right side but was denied by Reading goalkeeper Grace Moloney.
The Blues had one more threatening look on goal, this time through build-up play between Kenza Dali, Emslie and Anvegard, but Reading’s defense was alert to the danger. With each missed chance, Reading saw its opening grow ever so slightly.
Goals from Natasha Dowie in the 74’ and Tia Primmer in the 88’ continued Everton’s freefall. The Merseyside club coughed up a one-goal lead in the final minutes of the match and pushed its winless streak in league play to three games.
Not only did the Toffees gift Reading three points, but they also lost starting center back Nathalie Bjorn, who left at the hour mark through injury. Megan Finnigan took her place; last season, Finnigan logged the most minutes of any outfield player. The young defender has been relegated to a bench role this season and has been used sparingly in relief appearances in end-of-game situations.
Everton remains in 10th place with just 11 points from 12 contests. They also have the fourth-worst goal differential in the Super League with a margin of minus-11. Now on its third manager, it has been a nightmare season for a team that invested heavily in the squad this summer.
The Blues host Aston Villa, currently ranked ninth, next Sunday at home before visiting the Villains two weeks later. Back-to-back wins would be vital to the team’s survival hopes; six points would vault Everton past Villa and potentially land them as high as eighth.