Everton opened their Women's Super League season with a narrow 1-0 defeat to West Ham United at the Chigwell Construction Staidum.
Brian Sorensen’s side pushed hard for an equaliser but a resolute West Ham defence kept them at bay, securing victory through Lisa Evans’ first-half goal.
The Blues started the contest strongly, an early set-piece was met by the head of Lucy Graham, but her effort was well dealt with by Mackenzie Arnold.
West Ham responded well to early Everton pressure and came close themselves, keeper Courtney Brosnan displaying her handling ability as she dealt with a Lisa Evans effort smartly.
Shortly after, Honoka Hayashi’s drive from long distance narrowly evaded the goal.
The deadlock was then broken by the hosts on the brink of half-time, Evans nodding in from close range after pinball in the penalty box.
After the break, summer signing Katja Snoeijs came close to levelling for Sorensen’s side, her low effortwell handled by Arnold after Aggie Beaver-Jones played a great through ball.
Sorensen then looked to change the game by making three substitutes, with Izzy Christiansen and summer loan recruits Jess Park and new signing Gio all coming on.
Everton began to knock on the door, with Elise Stevenik drilling an effort towards goal that was superbly blocked by a West Ham body.
A stop-start second half prevented any real rhythm to be gained, yet Everton continued to probe and looked strong in the final stages.
Despite the pressure, though, the Blues were unable to find a leveller as West Ham held on to their narrow lead.
Everton will be hoping to bounce back when they face Liverpool in the Merseyside derby at Anfield on Sunday (6.45pm).