Gabby George’s sublime strike from distance proved to be just enough as Everton Women kicked off 2023 with victory over Reading.
A first home goal for Katja Snoeijs followed by a Jess Park strike on 32 minutes saw the Blues in total charge in the first 45, but the visitors responded just after the restart with a Justine Vanhaevermaet header, only for George to restore the hosts two-goal cushion. Reading refused to lie down, however, with Deanna Cooper’s goal on 68 minutes reducing the deficit to just one goal.
Everton decided that attack was the best form of protecting what they had and will feel hard done by to have not claimed the three points with a greater scoring margin.
The Blues began on the front foot and with Park particularly in the mood. The teen’s impeccable footwork found George out wide, and her cross was smartly finished by Snoeijs to put the Toffees ahead.
The goal produced a response from Reading, but it was Everton who doubled the lead. Park, once again the architect, this time combining with Nicoline Sorensen, before receiving the ball back, rounding Gemma Evans and finishing coolly to put the Blues in a commanding position.
JP. You are an absolute baller! pic.twitter.com/jbixtlO04p— Everton Women (@EvertonWomen) January 15, 2023
Reading rallied after the restart and Vanheavermaet’s near-post header from a corner was just reward for the Royals endeavours.
Everton’s response was almost immediate, however, and it was a moment of impeccable quality from the skipper on the day, George. Pushing forward from the kick-off, the unmarked George was afforded time and space, before unleashing an unstoppable drive that gave Reading’s Jacqueline Burns no chance.
Belter.pic.twitter.com/AV9Q8FtC57— Everton Women (@EvertonWomen) January 15, 2023
Cooper’s header seven minutes later looked to have set up a nail-biting finale, but it was the Blues who pressed for the next goal, with debutant Sara Holmgaard, Aggie Beever-Jones and Izzy Christiansen all having chances to grab a fourth.
The crowd made their appreciation clear upon the full-time whistle, and will be looking forward to Everton’s next fixture, which is another home match on Sunday 22 January, with West Ham the visitors to Walton Hall Park.