Resolute Blue Girls Impress Spence

Ladies Head Coach Andy Spence said Everton showed “both sides of their game” as they beat Reading to move up to eighth in the WSL 1 table.

In tricky conditions at the Select Security Stadium after frequent hail showers prior to kick-off left the pitch coated in ice, it was the Blue Girls who raced into the lead inside five minutes with Courtney Sweetman-Kirk’s cool finish.

Chloe Kelly doubled the Toffees’ advantage but Royals’ midfielder Rachel Furness pulled one back prior to half time. 

After the break, Everton had to dig in and hold firm as Reading piled on the pressure looking for an equaliser, with former Blue Girl Brooke Chaplen came closest when she hit the post late on.

But it was the Toffees that held on to leave Head Coach Spence delighted with a morale-boosting win.

“There were no hard luck stories today – we have had too many of them,” he told “We have had too many games where we have done great but haven’t won. Today we have done great but got a fantastic result to show for it.

“We were positive in our play and were ruthless with our chances. We had to be because against a side like Reading you don’t get many goalscoring opportunities. 

“But in the first half we have had four really good chances and take two of them. That’s why you win games. Previously we would have had four good chances and taken none.  

“The two goals from Courtney and Chloe were top class and I thought we had a third one when Dan Turner has seen a shot saved by their keeper. That could have sealed it in the first half. 

“In the second half, it was a case of just getting something on their balls into the box. It had to be like that, and we were resolute in our defending and hard to beat. I am pleased we could show both sides to our game.”

Marshalled by the imperious defensive duo of Gabby George and Georgia Brougham, Everton were impressive in their desire to deny Reading any space to get shots away.

Even when they did, Lizzie Durack was on top form to make crucial saves, denying Fara Williams and Furness.

Spence explained that the players have been working hard on the training pitch at USM Finch Farm to tighten up that area and was pleased to see the hard work pay off.

“Over the last few years, the team hasn’t perhaps that side – and that is probably my fault,” he added. “It is something the staff, and particularly Martin Ho, works hard on to ensure we are defensively solid and we don’t conceded soft goals.

“Their goal has come from a set play and I know that will be frustrating because we put a lot of work into that. But then that is one of Reading’s biggest strengths with the deliveries from set pieces from the likes of Fara and Jo Potter. 

“We had to defend resolutely and Lizzie has made some really important saves. We had a little bit of luck when they have hit the post late on but we deserved that. I’m really pleased for the girls.”

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