Everton Ladies suffered a second success defeat at the Marine Travel Arena as they fell to narrow 1-0 defeat to title-chasing Chelsea.
The Blue Girls were looking to bounce back after Arsenal pipped them to a place in the FA Women’s Cup final last Sunday but were undone by an early goal from Magdalena Eriksson.
There was plenty of endeavour and character shown by Andy Spence’s side – with Angharad James smacking the bar late on - but the Londoners held firm to maintain their tilt at the WSL 1 title.
Everton started the brighter of the two sides – barely a minute had elapsed before Angharad James had blazed the first chance of the evening of target.
But it would be the visitors who drew first blood. Georgia Brougham’s challenge on Ramona Bachmann was a little too strong for referee Sam Mulhall’s liking and when Bachmann herself fizzed over the resulting set-piece to the near post, there was Eriksson to nod home off the underside of the bar.
That early goal allowed the Londoners to settle into their stride, and went within a whisker of a second on 21 minutes. Aluko’s calmness under pressure from the Toffees defence saw her tee up Fran Kirby but the England striker’s effort from 18 yards bounced just the wrong side of Kirstie Levell’s right-hand post.
Goalscorer Eriksson then made a telling contribution at the other end, standing tall to block Sweetman-Kirk’s goalbound effort.
Things went from bad to worse for the Toffees on 28 minutes. Brougham did brilliantly to weave her way out of trouble but when she lost control, she went down clutching her leg after a strong tackle.
Thankfully she left the pitch on her feet, albeit with the aid of Everton’s medical staff, with Mollie Green onto replace her.
Aluko stung the palms of Levell as Chelsea looked to regain the initiative after the pause, with the visitors able to snuff out any threat that either Sweetman-Kirk or Kelly could muster.
After the break, the Blue Girls stepped up a level but still found it difficult to create clear-cut chances. Green’s excellent pass picked out Turner down the left but her cross couldn’t quite pick out Chaney Boye-Hlorkah at the far post.
England’s Millie Bright went within a whisker adding a second for her side on 62 minutes but guided Jonna Andersson’s deep centre into the side-netting, before Kirby fizzed a drive past the upright.
The Toffees were still working away, trying to find a way through a stubborn Chelsea rearguard and James thought she had done so on 87 minutes. Her well-struck shot beat Carly Telford but frustratingly came back off the bar.
An exasperatingly all to familiar tale for Everton – another resilient display goes unrewarded – but they must now switch their attention to Reading on Sunday.