Everton Ladies v Birmingham Ladies
Everton Ladies played out a frustrating 0-0 draw with their Birmingham counterparts, as both sides missed good chances to take three points at Marine.
The first half certainly favoured the visitors, and on 10 minutes last year’s WSL runners-up should have taken the lead when a looping Kirsty Linnett centre cannoned back off the crossbar.
The ball fell into the path of Rachel Williams who saw her point blank range effort bravely blocked by Vicky Jones enabling Lindsay Johnson to scramble clear.
A moment of controversy then saw Birmingham’s Jade Moore handle the ball after poor control with Michelle Hinnigan poised to pounce. Referee Helen Byrne exercised caution by showing yellow, with some Everton players – and fans – expecting a different colour.
Birmingham continued to threaten and struck the woodwork again when the now-carded Moore unleashing a 25-yard drive with Blues keeper Lizzy Durack stranded.
Then it was Everton’s turn to have hard luck when Toni Duggan turned former Blue Rachel Unitt inside out and her low centre was met by Hinnigan, who saw her half-volley rebound off the underside.
Then came the half’s other big talking point when Durack steamed out of her area upending Jo Potter in the process – the only indiscretion in an otherwise flawless performance.
Referee Byrne again showed caution and only a yellow card was brandished. Potter picked herself up to again take on the England Under-19 international, who tipped over.
The second half had barely got underway when Durack saved brilliantly from the ever-dangerous Linnett, whose shot looked destined for the top corner.
Everton manager Andy Spence was quick to act and introduced Nikita Parris and Simone Magill for Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah and Amy Kane respectively.
The decision served as a momentum swinger, with Magill being sent clear after a clever reverse pass by Toni Duggan, only to see her effort go narrowly wide.
As the game went on, chances became few and far between, but the hosts were growing in confidence with the fresh legs of Parris and Magill continued to threaten, although the Birmingham backline remained firm.
Indeed, the former thought she had made the breakthrough when she found space in the box but saw her header go straight into the arms of Birmingham stopper Marie Hourihan, after an excellent Vicky Jones centre.
The second period’s guilt-edged chance came almost with the last kick of the game when a cross-field Jill Scott pass was met by Duggan, who managed to evade the offside trap but couldn’t direct her shot on target, leaving both teams with a share of the spoils.
“I think we were lucky to keep a clean sheet tonight,” reflected Spence at the final whistle.
“Lucky in the sense that we allowed Birmingham so many chances, but not lucky in the sense that we had an outstanding young goalkeeper in Lizzy, who did at times, keep us in the game. I think all the credit should go to her for keeping this clean sheet.
“We could have nicked one at the end, we maybe had six or seven chances in the second half when we could have scored, but I think overall neither team deserved to win and a draw is fair.”