Everton Ladies delivered a purposeful, ambitious performance against Arsenal on Sunday but were edged out 2-1 by the WSL leaders.
Willie Kirk’s team had their work cut out to force a way back into the game after Louise Quinn had put the Gunners in front after just five minutes.
Striker Vivianne Miedema doubled the home team’s advantage midway through the first half, but Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah reduced the arrears just past the hour.
And in the closing stages the Blue Girls gave as good as they got against the title favourites.
The visitors made one change to the starting line-up from the midweek defeat by Birmingham City, with Hannah Cain replacing Emma Brownlie.
Everton went behind when defender Quinn planted a low header into the net from a Beth Mead corner.
As the Blue Girls looked to hit back a quick break saw winger Boye-Hlorkah racing into the Arsenal penalty area, only for Quinn to race back and clear.
Three Everton corners followed in quick succession, but Arsenal finally cleared the danger and in the 28th minute got their second goal through Miedema’s close range-strike, with Mead again the creator.
The visitors responded well and went close to pulling a goal back in the 33rd minute, Boye-Hlorkah sending in a fierce angled drive that goalkeeper Sari Van Veenendaal kept out with a spectacular full-stretch save.
An equally good stop at the other end by Kristie Levell denied Arsenal a third goal just before the break, the keeper diving to tip away defender Katrine Veje’s 20-yard effort.
The Gunners pressed again in the early stages of the second half, but the Blue Girls were right back in the game in the 61st minute.
Van Veenendaal picked up a back-pass and, from the indirect free-kick, midfielder Inessa Kaagman touched the ball to Boye-Hlorkah for the winger to drill a low shot into the net from eight yards.
Three Everton substitutions followed as manager Kirk tried to find a combination that could produce an equaliser.
And though they failed to take a point off the team that has led the table for almost the campaign, the Blue Girls can take heart from a performance that should give them confidence going into their final three games of the season.