Everton Women 2 United Women 3
Manchester United Women ended a five-game winless run by beating Everton 3-2 in a highly entertaining encounter in the Women’s Super League, which was the first match staged at the Merseysiders' new stadium, Walton Hall Park.
Leah Galton fired the Reds into the lead in the 21st minute, receiving the ball from Ella Toone before smashing it high into the roof of the net. Galton then grabbed her second of the afternoon eight minutes later, as she brought down Jess Sigsworth’s lofted pass to fire a low effort into the bottom-right corner. Toone made it 3-0 in the second period as she tapped the ball home from a couple of yards out, following Jane Ross’s cross.
Everton gave themselves a lifeline soon after when Danielle Turner headed the ball home from a corner. The Blues set up a thrilling finale in the closing stages of the game as Lucy Graham’s stunning cross-cum-shot found the back of the net in the 83rd minute.
After a 1-1 draw against Brighton and Hove Albion last time out, Casey Stoney made four changes to her starting XI. Abbie McManus and Lotta Okvist returned to the back four, replacing Amy Turner and Martha Harris, while Galton and Sigsworth were back in the starting line-up in place of Katie Zelem and Lauren James.
Stoney came up against former colleague Willie Kirk, who is now Everton Women’s manager. They shared a handshake prior to kick-off before attentions turned to the clash.
The first goal of the afternoon came down the left-hand side, which proved to be a fruitful avenue for United throughout the first half. Toone then slipped the ball into Galton, who produced a couple of stepovers to evade her marker and smashed the ball high into the roof of the net, past the helpless Sandy MacIvera in Everton’s goal.
It was soon 2-0 as United sprung a quick counter-attack which found Sigsworth in space in the Toffees's half. The striker’s lofted pass was expertly brought down by Galton inside the penalty area, before our no.11 saw off a challenge from Danielle Turner and fired a low shot into the bottom corner, putting the Reds in complete control on Merseyside.
The home side nearly pulled a goal back just before half-time, but, thankfully, the hard-working Sigsworth blocked a goal-bound effort from Everton’s Turner just inside the box.
Willie Kirk’s side started the second half on the front foot and created the first opportunity through Boye-Hlorkah, whose powerful effort was tipped over the bar by Mary Earps. However, it was the Reds who struck next, to make it 3-0. Ross worked her way past Megan Finnigan on the right wing to find space, before crossing the ball to Sigsworth, but her loose touch fell to Toone and our no.7 couldn’t miss from close range.
Everton pulled a goal back in the 67th minute as Earps misjudged the flight of the ball from Chloe Kelly’s in-swinging corner, allowing Danielle Turner to head the ball into an empty net and give the hosts a way back into a game which had been dominated by Stoney’s Reds up to that point.
The superb Galton was subbed shortly before the Toffees's first goal with Lizzie Arnot replacing the winger. United were also forced into a second change shortly after as Sigsworth went down injured. Full-back Martha Harris replaced the striker, as the Reds looked to shore up the defence with Everton looking dangerous. Katie Zelem was our final alteration in the 78th minute, as she came on for Toone, who enjoyed a fine afternoon with a goal and assist.
The Blues reduced the deficit even further in the 83rd minute to make it 3-2, as Lucy Graham’s long-range cross spectacularly flew over Earps, clipping the inside of the post before nestling into the net. United looked nervy after Everton’s second goal and the home side piled forward in search of a stunning comeback. A number of corners tested our backline and Turner came closest to pulling the game level for the Toffees.
However, the Reds firmly held on to grab a vital three points.
United: Earps, Smith, McManus, M. Turner, Okvist, Ladd, Groenen, Toone (Zelem 78), Galton (Arnot 66), Sigsworth (Harris 75), Ross (C).
Subs not used: A. Turner, Palmer, Mikalsen.
Scorers: United - Galton 21, 29, Toone, 63 | Everton - Turner 67, Graham 83.
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