Brian Sorensen praised the improved performance from his Everton Women side despite their 3-0 defeat to defending WSL champions Chelsea at Walton Hall Park.
Goals from Jessie Fleming, Sam Kerr and former Everton loanee Aggie Beever-Jones didn’t tell the full story of yesterday’s game, with the Blues having a Justine Vanhaevermaet goal ruled out for offside just before the break.
Sorensen made a total of seven changes from midweek, including starts for the Holmgaard twins, Martina Piemonte and returning skipper, Megan Finnigan.
The increased strength in personnel did make a difference, but squandered chances and the class of Emma Hayes’ champions eventually told.
Speaking after the match, Sorensen said:
“First half, we should be leading. With the chances we had and the goal which, for me, was a goal. I’m not blaming the ref because it is so hard in that second to make that decision.
“We had four clear-cut chances and we have to do better. But performance wise, it was good. We are finally getting key players back. In a game like this you need that physical side, that power.
“Unfortunately we couldn’t keep that throughout the game as we don’t want players getting injured again so Sara (Holmgaard), Karen (Holmgaard) and Martina (Piemonte) had to come off.
“Performance wise, it was more of what we want to see and hopefully if we can bring that and start converting our chances, all teams will struggle against us.”
Everton started well and forced Ann-Katrin Berger into an early save. Heather Payne - another of the seven returning to the starting XI - struck a powerful shot that the Chelsea stopper did well to repel.
But it was the usual story of the season for the Blues on 14 minutes. Fleming’s well-struck volley gave Courtney Brosnan no chance as the hosts failed to clear the danger.
Chances continued to be created at both ends, with Berger making another save on 30 minutes, this time from Vanhaevermaet’s first-time shot following good work from Payne.
Minutes later, Berger saved again. This time is from a Piemonte strike after the Italian had dispossessed Millie Bright.
Vanhaevermaet was again in amongst the chances and thought she had levelled just before half-time. Piemonte, who is doing everything but score at the moment, superbly held up play before finding Payne out wide. The Republic of Ireland star’s ball was met by Sara Holmgaard, who forced a tremendous save out of Berger only for the German to parry straight into Vanhaevermaet’s path, but her finish was ruled out for offside.
Chelsea showed their class in the second period and began to control proceedings. And their pressure was rewarded, unlike Everton’s, when Kerr doubled their lead on 62 minutes.
And it was three in injury time thanks to Beever-Jones’ top corner finish to give Hayes’ team a rather flattering winning margin.
Next up for Everton is bottom side Bristol City at Walton Hall Park on Sunday, 19 November, in what is becoming a must win fixture for Sorensen’s side.