After officially signing for Everton on July 10, Sweden defender Nathalie Björn had to wait 302 days to score her first goal in blue; it came in the first minute of the first-half stoppage time in a 1-1 away draw with Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday afternoon.
Björn, signed from Swedish club Rosengard in the summer, struck her first goal of the season following a nifty interchange with fellow Swede Anna Anvegård. Björn found Anvegård on the wing, but the ensuing shot was deflected. Fortunately for Everton, the ball fell to Björn, who curled a right-footed attempt past a diving Megan Walsh in net.
The visitors held the advantage at the break, but Brighton equalized through midfielder Aileen Whelan in front of its home supporters. In the 52’, a long-range effort glanced off the crossbar and found its way to Whelan; the crafty winger took a touch and smashed the ball into the back of the net to tie the affair.
Whelan scored three league goals this season, and two came against the Toffees. She netted in their first meeting and helped her side to a 1-0 victory.
Anvegård nearly regained the lead for the Blues two minutes after Whelan struck gold, but a blocked shot and an effort that soared over the net kept the score knotted at one apiece.
It was a busy day for Anvegård, who had a header inside the box denied in the 26’ by Walsh. The Ireland international also stonewalled winger Claire Emslie, who will leave Merseyside once her contract expires this summer, with a double-save in the 85’ to preserve the point for her side.
But Walsh wasn’t the only goalkeeper to have herself a game. Everton shot-stopper Courtney Brosnan, who started the final two fixtures of the season after spending months as the backup to Sandy MacIver, tipped a look from former Everton midfielder Inessa Kaagman onto the post.
Newly appointed manager Brian Sørensen has a decision to make regarding his first-choice goalie. MacIver seemed like the unquestioned number one after several impressive seasons at Finch Farm and breaking through with the England national team. Still, Brosnan’s impressive play in the final two matches could make for an intriguing goalie battle this summer.
Everton closes out the season with a 5-5-12 record, 20 points and a minus-23 goal differential. Relegation had been ruled out for the past several weeks, but with Aston Villa falling to Birmingham City Sunday, a win would have pushed the Toffees one spot forward into ninth. Instead, they finish as the third-worst team in the Women’s Super League.
With Sørensen ready to take over the bench, Everton must find the form that led to a fifth-place finish one year ago. Danish winger Nicoline Sørensen should be back from a torn ACL that cost her a majority of the year, and the club announced last week that interim manager Chris Roberts will stay with the team as an assistant coach. More to come in the end of season summary for the women’s team in a couple of weeks.