Everton Ladies boss Willie Kirk was impressed by the performance of his side despite their 2-0 WSL home defeat to Bristol City Women on Sunday.
Ella Rutherford’s thunderous half volley handed the visitors the lead in the 65th minute against the run of play before substitute Katie Rood sealed the victory in the closing seconds as the Blue Girls pushed for an equaliser.
Despite being disappointed with the result, Kirk was impressed with his team’s application and felt his side were very unlucky not to get anything from the match.
Kirk, who joined Everton from Manchester United Women this month and got his reign off to a flying start with a 2-1 win over Liverpool last weekend, said: “The 2-0 scoreline is not a great reflection of the game. From initial thoughts I think this has been a better performance than last week’s win over Liverpool but that is football.
“Sometimes you play better but you don’t get the result you deserve, but there is plenty to work with and we can’t be too disappointed.
“At half-time we were in a good position to go and take the game to them. I thought we laid really strong foundations in that first period. It’s just about getting those fine lines around detail, I thought Bristol were clinical and didn’t create many chances.”
The visitors showed why they have been no pushovers in recent years with their defensive organisation and resolve clear to see from kick-off. The Blues Girls dominated the first half but couldn’t break the deadlock and headed into the interval goalless.
Taylor Hinds and Chloe Kelly caused Bristol plenty of problems down the left flank in the first period as the home team dominated possession. Kirk’s side went close to opening the scoring in the 37th minute when Inessa Kaagman’s looping corner crashed off the crossbar.
Bristol came out in the second half providing more of an attacking threat, but it was the pace of Kelly that caused them more problems in the 50th minute although she couldn’t find a teammate with her cross after a meandering run down the right-hand side.
With the match still in the balance, Bristol’s Rutherford popped up with a piece of magic worthy of winning most games 25 minutes from time. Lucy Graham’s looped cross-field ball found Rutherford in space on the edge of Everton’s box and the number 10’s half volley flew into the corner of the net, giving Kirstie Levell no chance in goal.
Angharad James went close to pulling the hosts level two minutes from time with her powerful effort from outside the box being tipped over by Bristol stopper Sophie Baggaley.
Kirk rang the changes in the hope of grabbing an equaliser, throwing on attacking-minded players Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah, Elise Hughes and Claudia Walker. Bristol sub Rood took advantage of Everton’s shortage at the back when she dribbled past Gabby George and Hinds before slotting home to seal the win for Tanya Oxtoby’s side.
Kirk added: “I think we can take belief from today’s display. If you look at last week’s performance we didn’t score anything inside the box, either, they were both long-range efforts so that’s something we need to pay some attention to. We’ll have chances to put that right with games coming thick and fast.
“They’ll come in next week and won’t be too disappointed with the performance but they’ll be disappointed with the result.”
Next up for Everton Ladies is Kirk’s former side Manchester United Women in the Continental Cup at the Merseyrail Community Stadium in Southport on Thursday 13 December, 7pm.