Everton Boss Kirk Points To 'Step In The Right Direction'

Everton manager Willie Kirk reflected on a ‘gutting’ defeat but felt his side could build on 'a step in the right direction' after their last-gasp 2-1 defeat against Arsenal on Sunday.  

Megan Finnigan’s header cancelled out Katie McCabe’s opener, but a late spot-kick converted by Kim Little snatched away what would have been a well-earned point for the Toffees.

The Everton boss praised his team’s performance at Walton Hall Park and expressed his disappointment they were not able to take more away from the game.  

“There was a huge amount of hard work that was put into it in terms of the preparation, in terms of the application during the 90 minutes," said Kirk. "To lose it literally with the last kick of the ball was obviously gutting for the players.

“I think we were in their half a lot more after the break. We managed to control the territory a little bit better than we did in the first half.   

“I thought they managed it really, really well when they bought into our game plan. I'm just disappointed for them that they never got something out it.” 

Kirk also highlighted how well his side were able to limit the opportunities for their visitors’ key stars.  

“When you look at world-class players, not just very good players, world-class players like Kim Little, she will probably leave the game frustrated. She scored the last-minute penalty but she’ll be frustrated she didn't have more influence in the game in terms of her attacking role and I think that was because we neutralised her. 

“If you look at Vivianne Miedema, arguably the best striker in the world. How much an influence did she have the game? Very, very little. I thought our three centre-backs managed her very well.  

“I thought the players, the staff who prepared them during the week have done very well. Again, it’s a step in the right direction. It’s not points but is definitely a step in the right direction in terms of trying to close that gap on the top four.” 

Izzy Christiansen, who was nominated for Barclays Women’s Super League Player of the Season last week, was one of the stand-out players on Sunday afternoon.  

Her level of performance was acknowledged by her manager.  

“She's at that level we need,” Kirk added. “We need to continue to add that support around her. Without a doubt, she's a top player. 

“I still get a little bit confused why she's not a regular in the England squad anymore, but I think the nomination proves how consistent she is. 

“I think the number of goals and assists this year proves how good she is.  

“Izzy just has to continue work hard and do well in a blue Jersey and hopefully that earns her more caps in a white jersey.” 

Everton now travel to face Manchester United for their final WSL game of the season on Sunday before an FA Cup fifth-round tie away to Chelsea on Sunday 16 May.