Duggan On Target As Everton Beat Durham

Toni Duggan scored her first Everton goal in her second spell as the Blues beat Durham 1-0 in the Continental Cup.

It was a close affair as the Championship visitors gave the hosts a difficult match, but the England international proved the difference with her second half strike.

With Everton women unbeaten in their last two outings, the visitors on a loss streak spanning across five matches. 

Manager Jean-Luc Vasseur was unable to attend the League Cup match as he was instructed by the government's track and trace programme to isolate.

Backroom staff Frédéric Piquionne and Claire Ditchburn took charge for the afternoon. 

The Blues started brightly as captain Izzy Christiansen was controlling the game in the middle of the park with her passing, despite no real chances being made within the first 20 minutes it seemed like a matter of time before Everton broke the deadlock.

However, it was the visitors who had the first good chance of the game in the 26th minute when Molly Lambert played through Abby Holmes who shot from a tight angle forcing Courtney Brosnan to save smartly at her near post.

Everton came close to opening the scoring on 39 minutes when Christiansen found herself in some space on the right of the Durham area, her left footed strike forced Brooke MacKain to make a good save down to her right side to keep the score at 0-0.

Despite a relatively quiet half, Everton seemed to begin to tire out Durham with long phases of possession, Christiansen came close again a minute before the end of the half.

Poppy Pattinson delivered a great cross from the left channel to the far post where the Everton skipper headed towards goal, but this was again saved well by Durham’s MacKain.  

Substitute Lucy Graham nearly made an instant impact for The Toffees in the 58th minute, Simone Magill crossed brilliantly from the left side of the Durham box to the far post where Graham’s exquisite first-time volley crashed against the bar.

Everton did finally break the deadlock in the 61st minute with Toni Duggan scoring her first goal since returning to the Club.

The goal came from a Hanna Bennison corner which was bravely flicked on by defender Gabby George, falling to Megan Finnigan who headed to Duggan, the number nine confidently smashed the ball home on the volley from around eight yards.

This seemed to put a spring in the step of the home side nearly doubling their lead in the 74th minute again threatening from a corner.

Another dangerous cross this time from Pattinson was met by Graham who headed just over the bar.

Everton comfortably saw out the rest of the game deservedly securing the three points, now with two wins from their last three FA Women’s League Cup games this puts the Blues in a good position to get qualify to the knockout phases.