Everton fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat to Arsenal on Saturday, despite a spirited performance.
In what was a valiant effort from the Blues in the Barclays Women’s Super League clash at Meadow Park, it was a strike from Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema early in the first half that proved the difference.
The Gunners pushed hard to extend that advantage, but Emily Ramsey thwarted the hosts on several occasions to keep the deficit to just a single goal.
Everton had chances of their own to draw them game level, but ultimately just couldn’t find the crucial equalising strike.
The hosts enjoyed the lion's share of possession across the open exchanges but failed to cause the Everton defence any issues.
When they did win the ball, the Toffees built through the thirds well and fashioned their first chance of the game 17 minutes in.
Aggie Beever-Jones found Jess Park free in the box, she hit a low drive towards the goal that was blocked before ricocheting back of the forward and out for a goal-kick.
Despite a good start from Brian Sorensen’s side, Arsenal took the lead midway through the first half when Miedema showed good feet to evade several Everton tackles inside the penalty area before firing a curled effort into the top corner of Ramsey’s net.
The Everton 'keeper was forced into a flurry of saves soon after as the hosts up the ante in an attempt to double their advantage.
Everton’s best chance to draw level came when good pressure from the Blues forced a mistake in the Arsenal defence, Katja Snoeijs picked up the ball on the edge of the box in space but her subsequent shot flew high over the bar.
Arsenal then nearly extended their lead in the final minutes of the half as Jennifer Beattie smashed a half-volley from inside the penalty area that was goal-bound but deflected over the bar.
The Gunners’ Stina Blackstenius looked certain to score following a scramble from the resulting corner, but Ramsey stood tall to deny the forward from four yards out.
Ramsey was again to the rescue early in the second half as Miedema his three successive shots from a six-yard box scramble.
The Everton goalkeeper made two great saves to deny the Arsenal striker before Nathalie Bjorn and Gabby George combined to produce some fantastic dogged defending to clear off the line.
As the game headed to the hour mark, the Toffees forced their first chance of note in the second half. Beever-Jones broke through on goal and looked to round Manuela Zinsberger and slot home.
However, the Arsenal goalkeeper got down well to deny Everton’s No.15.
In search of the strike that would draw the game level, Brian Sorensen withdrew Hanna Bennison and Beever-Jones and replaced them with Aurora Galli and Nicoline Sorensen who made her first appearance of the season after over 14 months on the sidelines.
Leonie Maier and Kenzie Weir also joined the action late on in place of Elise Stenevik and Bjorn. A proud moment for Weir in particular who earned her first-ever minutes in the English top-flight.
These changes by the manager looked to have nearly had the desired effect when Everton went agonisingly close to grabbing an equaliser in the 90th minute.
Substitute Sorensen found Lucy Graham who smashed her effort first time. The strike was blocked on the line before Karen Holmgaard then saw her rebounded shot also blocked by some frantic defending from Arsenal.
A final opportunity came when Dane Sorensen stepped up to take a free-kick along the left side. Her ball found WSL debutant Weir who headed towards goal but was denied a fairy tale finish as Zinsberger collected the effort.
Everton turn their attention back to the Contintental League Cup as they travel to face Manchester United on Wednesday.