Willie Kirk said his team delivered "one of the best halves of football since I have been at the Club" after Everton Ladies gave WSL leaders Arsenal an almighty scare at Meadow Park on Sunday.
The Gunners went 2-0 up through first half goals by Louise Quinn and Vivianne Miedema, but winger Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah reduced the arrears just after the hour and the Blue Girls matched the champions elect throughout the second half.
The Toffees could not find the equaliser as Arsenal held on to move a step closer to the WSL title - but Kirk says his team's resolve offers much cause for optimism.
“We went toe to toe with the best team in England this year," Kirk said. "They changed their style today – we forced them into that, and the substitutions they made were testament to the way we played.
“They took off arguably the best striker in the world (Vivianne Miedema) with five minutes left and put on a defender, and I feel that we more than matched them especially in the second half.
“To be 2-0 down on a very hot day and so late on in the season, our players could have just downed tools. But they bounced back really well and were probably the better team in that second half.
“In those 45 minutes we gave one of the best performances since I’ve been at the club. We won recently at West Ham without playing as well as we did today, so it’s all about getting the balance right with performances and results.”
Kirk’s team have just two games remaining in the season, against Reading and city rivals Liverpool. And Kirk knows exactly what he is aiming for as he looks to make the strongest possible finish to the campaign.
“We are looking upwards and aim to climb above (ninth-placed) Brighton in the league table,” said the manager. “Reading will be a tough game, it always is against a good side who always give you a physical test.
“And as for the Merseyside derby, if any Everton player doesn’t claim to want to beat Liverpool or doesn’t feel motivated to do that, they shouldn’t be at this club. But we don’t have any players who feel that way – and we’ll be going for it."