Everton Ladies manager Andy Spence insists that despite drawing against Sunderland on Wednesday night, the Blue Girls can take positives following their return to WSL1 action.
Everton led in the 48th minute after a fine flowing move down the right resulted in Dan Turner meeting Chloe Kelly’s pinpoint cross and rifling into the roof of the net. Yet, the Toffees were pegged back on the hour mark through a Lucy Staniforth corner that found its way into the net – a goal which Spence described as a “fluke”.
Although Spence confessed his disappointment, the Everton boss chose to focus on the positives from the game in which Elise Hughes, 16, entered the fray on the same day she was called up to the Wales senior squad.
The draw acts as the final game for the Blue Girls before their SSE Women’s FA Cup semi-final tie with Arsenal on Sunday 15 April at The Marine.
“We haven’t been beaten – which is always a positive – and you have seen Taylor Hinds come in and do a steady job for us on her first start,” Spence told evertonfc.com.
“Young Elise Hughes came on, albeit for ten minutes or so, but she gave us energy and a spearhead up front. Courtney Sweetman-Kirk gets through so much work up front on her own, so Elise helped share that load when she came on.
“That is the type of fixture schedule we have, we know it will be tough but we have to prepare and be ready which is why we have a squad. We made a few changes today and brought on some substitutes, so everyone is getting opportunities.
“In terms of the result, you draw games... that is life. It was better than Sunday [when Everton beat Durham 6-1]. I was open in my views about Sunday and how it wasn’t good enough. We were better today but we need to tidy up our work and understand when we go one-nil up we need to get the three points.
“There are definitely positives, though. The goal was a well-worked and I am pleased with that. It was a great cross from Chloe and an equally good finish from Dan Turner.
“We haven’t got a full squad until three days before the Cup game, which is part of the schedule. We have to accept that but it will be the same for Arsenal. We need to prepare everyone, be ready and when the internationals come back make sure they understand how to win the game against Arsenal and focus on that.”
The draw was Everton’s first in the league this season and moved them on to ten points, three behind Wednesday night’s opposition. Spence was disappointed his side didn't claim the maximum haul which would have drawn them level with Sunderland - even if he accepted neither side did enough to earn all three points.
“We are disappointed with the response to going one-nil up which is surprising because normally when you go up in a game, your confidence starts to flow but we dropped off and allowed them back in the game.
He said: “Really we should have seen a better outcome in terms of the final result but I don’t think either team could claim they were deserved winners so a draw is about right.
“It was frustrating to go one-nil ahead and then concede, Sunderland had 120 minutes against Manchester City at the weekend, so we felt we could have controlled the game. But we actually played as if we were losing and we have to learn from that.
“Their goal was a fluke, there’s no other way of describing it, but it seemed like it was coming. They had a number of shots and set plays. We are disappointed overall but a point is not the worst result ever.”