Everton Ladies 1-0 Bristol Academy
An own goal saw Everton Ladies end their Women’s Super League season with a 1-0 victory over Bristol Academy on Sunday.
The visitors went into the game knowing a big away win could see them snatch third place away from Everton, but the Blues were defending an unbeaten home record and were determined to put the defeat at Lincoln in their previous fixture behind them.
They did just that as Nikita Parris’ centre was turned into her own net by Bristol defender Jemma Rose just minutes into the second half.
Visiting goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain was twice called into action early on by Everton left-back Alex Greenwood as Mo Marley’s side started in the ascendancy.
Striker Parris was next to try her luck. Latching on to Brooke Chaplen’s pass down the right, she wriggled free from the attentions of a Bristol defender but, as she did, her angle narrowed and Chamberlain comfortably dealt with her effort.
It was all Everton, and Fara Williams, who was dominant throughout, fizzed a free-kick narrowly over the crossbar as the Blues pushed for an opener. Toni Duggan then shot straight at Chamberlain from range as the chances continued to come their way.
Right on half-time, Bristol began to threaten. From a cheaply conceded corner, only some superb defending denied them the opener. After the corner was swung in, the loose ball cannoned around the Everton box with Michelle Hinnigan’s goal-line clearance vital in keeping it out.
Buoyed by their first-half display, Everton went in front immediately after the restart. Parris crossed low from the right, Chamberlain tried to palm it away but the ball flew straight into defender Rose and she helplessly watched it bounce over the line.
Chamberlain partially redeemed herself with a good stop from Williams soon after but Bristol could barely settle on the ball as any red shirt in possession was instantly swarmed by those in blue.
The constant pressure saw Williams rob the ball on half way and perfectly find Duggan. However, after twisting this way and that, she was denied a clear effort on goal by a brilliant recovery tackle from Loren Dykes.
The lively Parris was causing no end of problems for the Bristol defence and when she caught Rose in possession she had a glorious chance to extend the lead. Shaking off a boot to the chin, she raced forward but was denied by a smart stop from Chamberlain.
Everton remained on top, but Lindsay Johnson was at full stretch to head away a dangerous looking cross following a rare Bristol counter and sub Ellen Curson’s long-range shot flew straight at Hill.
Marley threw on substitutes Natasha Dowie and Jill Scott in a final bid to find a second but it was Bristol who finished strongly.
There was to be no leveller, however, as a defence marshalled superbly by Johnson held firm to help the Ladies finish the season on a high.
“It was really pleasing,” said Marley afterwards. “We asked for a big response today following some stick over our recent form, and we got that in every department.
“I would summarise the game today as really what Everton Ladies is all about. It’s not actually the end of this season but us getting ready for the start of next season.”