A resolute performance from Everton Ladies saw them edged out 1-0 against WSL 1 title challengers Chelsea at Kingsmeadow.
In truth, it could have been more for the Blue Girls, with striker Courtney Sweetman-Kirk seeing a first-half penalty smack the post.
But the Londoners stepped up a gear in the second half and, despite a spirited defensive display from the Toffees, it was left to full-back Jonna Andersson to fire into the top corner in the 83rd minute to break the visitors’ hearts.
Head Coach Andy Spence was forced into an early change to his starting line-up prior to kick-off after Simone Magill picked up a knock in the warm-up, with Mollie Green coming in.
But it was Green’s fellow forward Chloe Kelly who had the first real chance of the afternoon. After Sweetman-Kirk was fouled, the 20-year-old – who turned her loan spell from Arsenal into a permanent move on Thursday – bent a free-kick toward goal that needed the fingertips of keeper Hedvig Lindahl to tip over.
Sweetman-Kirk then had the ball in the net only to see the linesman’s flag up for offside, a decision that looked tight but one replays suggested was just about right.
Angharad James sent a dipping volley over the bar before the Blue Girls were awarded a penalty when Chelsea’s Anita Asante fouled Sweetman-Kirk. The striker stepped up to take the penalty herself but her powerful spot-kick came back off the post.
Back came Chelsea and Lizzie Durack was alert to make key saves from Hannah Blundell then England international Karen Carney, leaving it goalless at the break.
After the interval it was Chelsea who assumed early control – Durack on hand to make vital stops to deny USA international Crystal Dunn and then Carney in quick succession.
The Londoners introduced internationals Fran Kirby, Maren Mjelde and Ji So Yun from the bench to inject fresh impetus into their attack but still the Toffees held on – with Durack in particularly stubborn form.
The Blue Girls keeper made telling stops to keep out Kirby then Yun as Chelsea found the slivers of space afforded to them by Everton’s rearguard.
But the pressure finally told in the 83rd minute. Kirby found space in the box, and moved it left to where Chelsea full-back Andersson was running and she side-footed into the top corner, leaving Durack with no chance.
A bitter pill to swallow for the Toffees, who must bounce back quickly ahead of their FA Cup fourth round tie against Bristol City in Crosby on Sunday.