Toni Duggan returned to Finch Farm last summer with the promise of competing for a league title with a young and talented side, an opportunity meant to revitalize her stalled international career; Duggan hasn’t been called up to the national team since March 2020.
But on Friday afternoon at St. Andrew’s, Duggan’s chances, like the rest of her teammates, were for naught as Everton failed to break down a composed Birmingham City defense in a goalless draw.
Taking any points from an away fixture is always positive, but a tie with a team that has struggled mightily all season in the Women’s Super League is a missed opportunity to pick up a much-needed three points.
In the 48’, Duggan struck a shot from outside the 18, but her effort glanced over the top left corner by a few inches. Duggan’s attempt was one of 18 total shots the Toffees sent toward Birmingham goalie Emily Ramsey. Despite peppering the net, only five made it to Ramsey.
Everton got several early looks on frame; midfielder Aurora Galli and winger Kenza Dali linked up for the afternoon's first chance two minutes in but couldn’t sneak the ball past Ramsey.
Both Galli and Dali were involved later in the affair; Galli fed forward Hanna Bennison in the 84’, but the Sweden international slipped and coughed up possession. Dali, meanwhile, broke on the counterattack just past the hour mark, but her try arrived inches wide of the post.
Two of the players who had the largest impact on the outing were midfielder Izzy Christiansen and Bennison. The two joined forces in the 63’ after Bennison, who broke through City's defense, found Christiansen. But as was the case for much of the afternoon, Christiansen’s effort sailed over the bar.
Friday’s contest was the best chance Everton had to take points for the remainder of the season; Birmingham has won just once in 18 matches this season and is tied for most goals conceded in the Super League with 43.
Friday was the 10th time in 19 games the Toffees have failed to score in a season where they have found the net only 15 times. The Blues also haven’t won since March 12.
With three league fixtures remaining — Arsenal (April 24, H), Tottenham (May 1, H), Brighton & Hove Albion (May 8, A) — the Merseyside outfit is officially safe from relegation. Even if Everton loses its final three games and Birmingham wins its last four, there would still be a one-point gap in favor of the Toffees.