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Blues Ladies 2 Everton Ladies 1

Posted: Thu 05 Sep 2013
Author: Chris Quinn

Melissa Lawley

Blues Ladies came from a goal down to secure a thoroughly deserved 2-1 win over Everton Ladies in what was their final home game of the FA Women’s Super League 2013 season.

A goal from Nikita Parris had put the visitors ahead but second-half strikes from Jade Moore and Melissa Lawley (pictured) secured all three points for David Parker’s side.

Blues made just one change to the side that lost to Everton’s rivals Liverpool on Sunday, with Aoife Mannion making her debut at the expense of Cristina Torkildsen who dropped to the bench.

The hosts started the game on the front foot and Lawley was quick to test Everton goalkeeper Megan Walsh who had signed earlier in the day from Aston Villa and replaced Rachel Brown-Finnis who picked up a knock during the warm-up.

Having had three free-kicks for a succession of early fouls against Karen Carney and most of possession in the first third of the half, it was a sucker punch when the visitors took the lead after 15 minutes.

A simple punt forward from Everton looked to have been dealt with by Mannion, but her attempted backpass wasn’t quite strong enough to reach Blues goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer and Parris latched on to the ball before curling an effort into the top corner to give the visitors an unexpected lead.

A couple of minutes later, Parris tried to get away from Mannion again after a deft touch from Michelle Hinnigan released her, but the young debutant showed tremendous character to make a great intervention just moments after her earlier setback.

A plethora of long range efforts ensued before half-time, with the best coming from England winger Carney who received the ball after dogged efforts in midfield by Lawley to win the ball and release her. Carney then cut in from the left flank and hit a shot so powerful it almost caught Walsh off guard, but the debutant ‘keeper did well to hold on to the strike.

On the stroke of half-time, Blues were denied the first of three penalty claims when full-back Chelsea Weston went tumbling in the Everton box, but the appeal was rejected by referee Mark Billingham.

Blues have become a force in the second half of home games of late and this match was no different.

Within one minute of the restart, Carney’s jinking run in to the box was ended by Greenwood, but again referee Billingham rejected the appeals of the home side. Walsh was called into action a minute later when Isobel Christiansen’s long-range effort required tipping over the crossbar.

The theme of the second half appeared to involve switching the ball early in the move to Carney, who was hugging the right touchline and causing the visitors problems with her touch and direct dribbling skills.

Just past the hour mark, Carney latched on to a through ball and rounded ‘keeper Walsh before appearing to be clipped by the arms of the visiting goalkeeper. Despite stumbling, Carney kept her feet but was crowded out by the time she had steadied herself, with the Blues players and management team disappointed play was not pulled back for the alleged foul.

Everton introduced Paige Williams after 69 minutes to slot in at left-back and try to nullify the increasing influence of Carney, but the defender almost doubled Everton’s lead with her first touch. A foul by Jo Potter gave the visitors a free-kick 35 yards out, which Williams struck fiercely and which she saw Spencer tip on to the crossbar.

With Blues piling the pressure on, they got a deserved equaliser in the 76th minute. Carney was hacked down in the centre of the park by Greenwood and when Potter floated the ball into the box, skipper for the day Moore rose highest to flick a header past the onrushing Walsh.

Jill Scott saw her deflected effort saved by Spencer as the game approached the final 10 minutes, but there only ever looked to be one winner of the game.

With three minutes left, Blues got the second goal their performance warranted. Potter did well to switch the ball to the left-flank where full-back Kerys Harrop took a touch and released Lawley down the left channel. The young winger’s pace got her away from Brooke Chaplen and she retained her composure to slot the ball past Walsh.

There was still time for some controversy as, in the first minute of injury time, Everton were awarded a free-kick. Williams again struck an effort and once more it hit the crossbar; when Scott nodded home the rebound the visitors thought they had snatched a point. However, Christiansen had broken out of the defensive wall too early and so referee Billingham had already blown for the free-kick to be retaken. Christiansen was booked for the infringement.

The retaken free-kick was blazed over the crossbar and moments later the referee signalled full-time meaning that Blues, who will play next season’s home games at Solihull Moors’ Autotech Stadium, signed off their FA WSL stay at the DCS Stadium with a victory.

Attentions will now turn to Genevea, Switzerland, where Blues will find out the identity of their Champions League round of 32 opponents. The draw takes place at 11am on Thursday September 5th 2013.

Blues Ladies: Spencer; Weston, Harrop, Westwood, Mannion; Christiansen, Moore, Potter, Lawley; Carney; Linnett
Unused subs: Simpkins, Torkildsen, George, Haines, Earps, Wilkinson.
Goals: Moore (76), Lawley (87)
Bookings: Mannion, (90) Christiansen, (90)

Everton Ladies: Walsh; Jones (Williams, 69), Greenwood, Johnson, Handley, Scott, Duggan, Hannigan, Chaplen, Parris (Boye-Hlorkah, 73), Kane.
Unused subs: Williams, Whipp, Magill, Murphy.
Goal: Parris, (15)
Bookings: Handley, (90)

Attendance: 243

Referee: Mark Billingham