Everton Ladies v Arsenal Ladies
Everton Ladies fell to an agonising 2-1 defeat against Arsenal in a lively encounter at the Select Security Stadium.
Strikes from Danielle Carter and skipper Alex Scott cancelled out Nikita Parris’ eighth goal of the season in what was an unfortunate afternoon for Andy Spence’s side who suffered injuries to both Fern Whelan and Rachel Brown-Finnis as well as seeing a penalty saved.
The game began brightly with both sides making a mockery of their lowly league positions, with flowing football creating end-to-end action.
On 10 minutes the Blues were to endure their first bit of bad luck when Whelan went over heavily on her ankle and was unable to play any further part, leaving Gabby George to come on in her place.
Parris continued to threaten the visitors’ backline and was the victim of some heavy treatment from Emma Mitchell and Niamh Fahey, who both went into the referee’s notebook fouls on Everton’s livewire forward.
But it was her opposite number Carter who was to strike first blood on 42 minutes with the easiest of finishes. The forward was the first to react when Brown-Finnis saved well from Leah Williamson’s initial effort, poking home from close range.
The Toffees weren’t behind for long as Parris, who had just entered the referee’s notebook herself, dispossessed Fahey on the edge of the area and delivered a composed finish to restore parity on the stroke of half-time.
The second 45 started in the same vein as the first and Everton were forced into their second change when keeper Brown-Finnis was poleaxed following a 50/50 challenge with Williamson. The Blues’ keeper was thankfully able to get back on her feet but had to be replaced by Megan Walsh.
Luck seemed to swing back into Blues’ favour on the hour mark when Yukari Kinga was judged to have handled inside the area leaving referee Aaron Jackson in no doubt over awarding the spot kick.
Skipper Michelle Hinnigan assumed responsibility only to see her effort well stopped by the flawless Byrne in the Arsenal goal.
Play remained tight between the two sides until the 84th minute. Substitute Kelly Smith’s initial 20-yard effort was parried by Walsh into the path of Scott who sealed her side’s victory with a close-range finish.
Spence’s side threw everything into finding an equaliser but all efforts proved to be in vain as the visitors hung on for all three points.