Everton Women 0 United Women 2
Manchester United Women enjoyed a superb afternoon on Merseyside by beating Everton 2-0 in the WSL.
It was a solid and defensively strong display for the Reds, with first-half goals from Ella Toone and Christen Press ensuring we came away with all three points to keep the pressure on current league leaders Chelsea.
It was a scrappy opening at Walton Hall Park, with the ball being physically contested in the midfield area. But when the first chance did come, it was via the boot of Press. The American swivelled on the edge of the box and fired an effort at goal, but Everton goalkeeper Alexandra MacIver kept it out with a smart save.
The stopper was called into action moments later when Leah Galton flew down the left wing and fired a cross into the box. MacIver palmed the ball down inside the six-yard box and bounced back up to punch it away. However, the ball fell invitingly into the path of Toone, who confidently smacked itl into the back of the net with her left foot to give the Reds a ninth-minute lead.
The winger fired over moments later with a shot from a wide position, before Press went close with a strike that forced MacIver into a quick-reaction save with her feet.
The USA international was causing the Toffees’ defence repeated problems and her hard work forced a half chance on 17 minutes, but MacIver was out quickly to smother the ball before Press could muster a clean strike.
After a frenetic opening period, the next 15 minutes were slightly less action-packed. Everton enjoyed more possession, but failed to create any real chances of note, the best of which was a speculative Lucy Graham shot from distance.
The Reds continued to look more threatening in attack. Press fashioned a dangerous chance when bearing down on goal, but she was flagged offside by the assistant referee.
On 35 minutes, Toone could have doubled her tally when she was released by a quality long pass from Katie Zelem. Our no.7 crashed a powerful effort on target, but an excellent full-length stop from MacIver denied the winger a second goal.
United’s dominance was rewarded not long after, when Press grabbed a much-deserved strike. The goal came after the American’s industrious work up front and a weak Everton clearance presented the ball to Hayley Ladd on the edge of the box.
The midfielder took a touch and then slipped in Press, who held off the challenge of Danielle Turner, got the ball onto her left foot and calmly slotted the ball past MacIver to ensure it was Casey Stoney’s side who went in two goals ahead at the break.
The hosts came out fired up after the interval. Jill Scott, making her debut for Everton, produced an excellent shot from around 30 yards, but United goalkeeper Mary Earps was equal to it and pushed the ball wide.
Willie Kirk’s side were certainly on top in this particular spell and Turner’s effort on 58 minutes was blocked en route to goal by the United defence.
However, Galton ended a great attacking move for the Reds when she drilled a shot on target, although MacIver comfortably held her strike.
Much like periods in the first half, Everton were seeing lots of the ball but failing to create many shooting opportunities. That was largely due to the excellent defending of Amy and Millie Turner at the back, while Ladd, sitting just in front of the pair, shielded them superbly from the Toffees’ attackers.
On one of the rare occasions that the hosts did find a slight gap in the United backline, poor shooting let them down. Swiss attacker Alisha Lehmann fired wide with her left foot from outside the area.
As we entered the final stages of the game, the Merseysiders piled on the pressure and put several dangerous crosses into the United box, but none were met by a blue jersey as the Reds' rearguard stood firm.
Everton: MacIver; Moe-Wold, Finnigan, Sevecke, Turner; Scott, Christiansen, Graham (C); Raso (Lehmann 72), Guavin (Emslie 56), Sorensen.
Substitutes not used: Korpela, Clemaron, Clinton, Stringer, Boye-Hlorkah, Magill.
Booked: Scott, Finnigan.
United: Earps; Smith, A.Turner, M.Turner, Batlle; Ladd, Zelem (C) (Sigsworth 66); Toone, Groenen, Galton (James 81), Press (Hanson 81).
Substitutes not used: Bentley, Thorisdottir, Fuso, Ross.
Scorers: Toone 9, Press 42.