Everton Ladies boss Andy Spence was full of praise for his players despite their FA Women’s Cup exit at the hands of rivals Liverpool.
The Blue Girls more than matched their WSL 1 neighbours, having overcome a strong first half from the Reds in which Wales international Tash Harding put them ahead on eight minutes.
But after the interval, a much-improved Everton levelled through Simone Magill, forcing extra-time. Both Claudia Walker and Magill went close to securing victory only for Shanice van de Sanden to cruelly head home the winner.
But Spence insisted he was pleased with the display from his players and the character they showed throughout the game.
“In the first half, Liverpool were the better side and at half time we spoke about needing a big response,” he said. “We felt we weren’t brave enough to get on the ball and were rushed in our possession. Too often we were gifting them back the ball.
“We reminded the players that we have a lot of talent in the team and they should want to get on the ball, whoever it is against. In the second half and in extra-time, you saw a much-improved display. They showed incredible desire to get us back level from 1-0 down. It was a well-worked goal and a fantastic finish from Simone.
“We had further chances, ran them really close and the girls were disappointed with the end result. But I told them after that I couldn’t fault any single player for their attitude and their will to compete.”
Thoughts now turn to the trip to Millwall Lionesses on 2 April and maintaining the winning start to the Spring Series.
Spence believes there was a lot to take away from the loss to Liverpool for his side, and urged his players to continue their good form.
“It is important we focus on the positives and the performance rather than the result,” he added. “It will hurt because no one likes to get beat but we have to take away what the good aspects of the game were. A lot of those came shining through in the second half and in extra-time. It is important we make them part of our game going forward.
“Our threat going forward was certainly one area that showed how much we have progressed. It’s a credit to the players because they have looked at that aspect of our game and wanted to improve on it.
“We do look a threat and you look at Liverpool’s back line and the internationals they have and we have tested them and kept them working for 120 minutes. So that shows that the work the players have put in is starting to come through. It will stand us in good stead for the games to come.”