Everton Ladies showed plenty of fight and heart but were edged out by Manchester City in a five-goal thriller at the Select Security Stadium on Saturday night.
A stunning goal from Claudia Walker gave the hosts the best possible start but Steph Houghton and Nikita Parris overturned that early advantage in the 12th minute.
Pauline Bremer then added a third to seemingly put the contest out of Everton’s reach – but Simone Magill struck on 66 minutes to inject fresh impetus into the Blue Girls.
But try as they might, they could not find a third, despite taking the game to City in the closing stages.
Andy Spence once again shuffled his pack and named an adventurous line-up that suggested attack was the best for of defence – strikers Courtney Sweetman-Kirk, Walker, Magill and Chaney Boye-Hlorkah all started.
Elsewhere, Olivia Chance came in for Meg Finnigan to partner Jodie Brett in anchoring the midfield, while Faye Bryson kept her place after impressing against Birmingham City.
The bold attacking line-up paid dividends right from the off. After just four minutes, Walker picked up possession 25 yards from goal and beat Marie Hourihane.
But the lead lasted just eight minutes. The Blue Girls conceded a free-kick and Houghton bent a powerful drive away from Lizzie Durack and into the net.
Inside a minute, City were ahead, as ex-Toffee Parris steered a close range header beyond Durack.
Germany international Bremer added a third six minutes later, but was later stretchered off with a suspected leg fracture following a coming together with Gabby George.
Chance then saw a shot well saved by Hourihane as the Blue Girls finished the half strongly.
Everton picked up where they left off in the second half and set about looking to reduce the lead as quickly as they could.
And on 66 minutes they did just that, as Magill prodded home from close range to give the Toffees real hope that they could get back into the contest.
But try as they might, Spence’s side just couldn’t quite carve out the chance they needed, with City showing all their experience to see the game out.
But the Toffees had given the WSL 1 high-fliers arguably their toughest test so far this season, and they can take plenty of confidence from the performance into Thursday’s game against Doncaster Rovers Belles.