Everton Women’s manager Willie Kirk admitted his team did not play to their potential after the Blues were beaten 3-2 at Reading on Sunday.
Chloe Kelly and Lucy Graham hit equalisers for Everton after they twice went behind during a frenetic first half at Adams Park
A 70th-minute Lisa-Marie Utland header put Reading back in front and, although Everton pushed hard for a third leveller, the home side held on to secure maximum points.
Kirk said there are number of aspects from Everton’s performance that they must improve on.
“We have to take our medicine and learn from the game,” said Kirk.
“There was no real control in the game. We started brightly enough, but we fell short on a number of elements. Our transition was not quick enough.
“We’ve lost to a very good team, though, and it wouldn’t surprise me if come the end of the season both Reading and ourselves are in the top six."
In-form forward Kelly - whose strike was her third in the WSL this season - almost snatched a point for Kirk’s team, shooting just wide late in the piece after bursting clear of the Royals defence.
“I’d have backed Chloe to put that chance away and if she gets a similar chance in our next game I’ll back her again," Kirk added.
Former Everton player Fara Williams assisted each of Reading goals. Her precision dead-ball deliveries set up Jade Moore’s first-half double and Utland’s winner 20 minutes from time.
“We’ve not lost a goal in open play for 10 games now,” said Kirk, “That shows we’re getting our defensive structure and organisation right when teams are coming at us and trying to break us down.
“But we have to sort out our defending of set-pieces – that was very disappointing today. It was frustrating because, although our performance overall was disappointing, we still should have taken something from the game.”
Next up for Kirk’s team is a home game against Brighton on Sunday 27 October.
“Brighton are a competitive team,” said Kirk. “But we’ll be preparing to win and expecting to win.”