Live Match:

Arsenal (A) Sun 1 Mar 2015, 14:05, Barclays Premier League

by Daniel Alston @efc_danalston

Everton Ladies recorded their first win of the season with a 1-0 victory over Lincoln Ladies.

A first-half goal from Gwen Harries sealed all three points for Mo Marley's side, lifting the Blues up to fourth in the table.

An imposed fortnight break could have been a double-edged sword for both teams.

The postponement of last weekend's fixtures denied the chance to gain momentum in the campaign, but provided extra time for preparation for this tough clash.

Last season, Lincoln proved tricky opposition for the Blues - avoiding defeat in both league fixtures, one of which halted a five-game winning streak.

But despite a close contest at the Arriva Stadium, the Toffees emerged victorious in the latest encounter.

Manager Marley made just one change from the 0-0 draw against Birmingham as Nikita Parris was handed her first league start in place of Jody Handley.

In the Lincoln dugout, the line-up remained unaltered from the 1-0 win at Bristol.

Those two weeks without action appeared to benefit the hosts, who started the brightest and could have gone ahead inside the opening minute.

Collecting the ball inside a congested box, Toni Duggan adjusted to get her shot low and on target. Lincoln stopper Nicola Hobbs would not have seen it until late, but dived down in time to deny Duggan her third goal of the season.

The Blues striker was a thorn in the visitors' side all day and came close again six minutes later with a header that just evaded the post with Hobbs rooted.

On 10 minutes, Carla Cantrell could have silenced the home crowd. The Imps striker was played in between two defenders but fired her shot well over.

Jill Scott must have thought she had given the Blues the lead five minutes later. After Duggan was again denied, the England international collected a poor pass by Hobbs and lobbed the goalkeeper from 40-yards.

Cheers broke out in the stand as the ball bounced goalward, but its final contact with the turf set it on course for the post before the visitors gratefully cleared.

The breakthrough came on 26 minutes with Scott playing in Welsh international Gwen Harries. The striker applied an equally neat finish inside the box to put the Blues 1-0 up.

The action then fell rather flat - the pace and trickery of Parris and Lincoln's Jess Clarke consistently lighting up an otherwise scrappy end to the first half.

Lincoln began the second period with a change up front, Precious Hamilton coming on for Megan Harris. And after another even and dogged spell, it was the substitute that had the best chance to level the scoring.

Another cutting ball found Hamilton one-on-one with Rachael Brown on 63 minutes, but the former Doncaster and Birmingham forward saw her shot trickle agonisingly wide.

A series of substitutions prevented either side from capitalising on their momentum from half-chances, but as the clock ticked down, the Blues looked more likely to score a second than conceding.

Alex Greenwood blocked Clarke's shot before Harries curled late efforts off target. Ultimately, the goalscorer's strike midway through the first half proved enough.

After the final whistle, Marley declared her delight at the result.

"I'm really happy," she said. "We knew it was going to be tough. They're a really good side.

"They've got some really good youngsters and have brought in some experienced players as well, so they've got a bit of stability. They came here this time last year and got the three points.

"I thought we physically competed in every department. I think we should have capitalised with the possession that we had in the first half. If we'd have done better, it might have been put to bed by half time.

"It wasn't and credit to them, they had a large spell of the second half. Like us in the first half, they were probably lacking that bit of quality to get back in the game.

"At this time of the season, compared to where we were last year, it is great to get an early three points. We are on the right track now.”


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