Everton Ladies 2-1 Chelsea Ladies
Goals from Toni Duggan and Gwen Harries gave Everton Ladies a deserved victory over their Chelsea counterparts in a lively encounter at the Arriva Stadium.
The first half had few clear-cut chances but saw both sides attempt to get the ball down and play.
Natasha Dowie caught Chelsea’s Laura Coombs in possession but fired over from 20 yards as the Blues had the first telling strike on goal.
Dowie was again to be denied two minutes later when a defence splitting pass from Duggan saw the striker clean through, only for Chelsea’s No.1 Carly Telford to save at point-blank range.
Fara Williams had Everton’s best chance of the half when Dowie’s purposeful run saw her upended by Coombs, but the resulting spot kick was saved by the Chelsea stopper.
The visitors offered little at the other end; a brilliant Brooke Chaplen tackle thwarted Dunia Susi in the penalty area, while another Susi run from the right ended with her left-footed effort being easily gathered by Rachel Brown.
Everton were quicker to get started after the interval and a minute into the second half Jill Scott’s centre was only half cleared by the Chelsea backline allowing Duggan to unleash a 25-yard drive which gave Telford no chance.
Mo Marley’s side immediately pushed forward in the hope of doubling their advantage, but Dowie was having an off day in front of goal and saw her back-post header cleared off the line from a Williams corner.
The pace of Nikita Parris was introduced for Dowie soon after and the youngster nearly made an instant impact, but after driving into the 18-yard box her ferocious effort came back off the woodwork with Telford beaten.
The match was becoming more and more stretched and Everton stand-in keeper Danielle Hill – who had earlier replaced Brown following a collision with Chelsea forward Adriana Martin – had to be alert to thwart the same player as she raced clear. The assured Lucy Bronze then mopped up the rebound.
The game’s decisive strike came on 82 minutes when Williams switched the play and found Harries in acres of room on the right. The Welsh international cut inside her marker and her low, near-post effort squeezed in under the body of the otherwise flawless Telford.
Duggan should have had her second minutes later after being put clean through by Scott, but her poor first touch allowed Telford to atone for her earlier error.
The third minute of injury time saw Chelsea pull a goal back through Martin but it proved only to be a consolation as Everton held on for a vital win.