Reading FC Women fell to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of hosts Everton in their FA WSL1 fixture in Widnes.
In snowy conditions, first-half goals from Courtney Sweetman-Kirk and Chloe Kelly gave the Toffees the win, as Rachel Furness’ header before the break counted for little as late chances couldn’t quite be capitalised on.
The hosts could barely have wished for a better start, as Sweetman-Kirk was threaded in and managed to coolly slot beyond Mary Earps with four minutes played.
Reading, in reply, put the pressure on but the Toffees were able to withstand the onslaught… and, conversely, it was Everton who netted the game’s second goal as they made a counter-attack count.
Before the midpoint of the first period, it was Kelly who finished the move – a tame defensive clearance was snaffled up, allowing her to fire in and double the hosts’ lead.
The Royals managed to halve the deficit before the half-time whistle – it was a fine delivery from a corner by Fara Williams which allowed Furness to power in a header from close range.
In the second half, Lizzie Durack made a fine save to deny Lauren Bruton a leveller, and then when she was beaten by Brooke Chaplen, the post was there to the rescue in the final 10 minutes.
Reading manager Kelly Chambers said: “The performance was outstanding, we were on top for the majority of the game and they scored from two counter attacks. They had two chances and scored two goals, so it’s the result I’m disappointed with. We had to take our chances today.
“We did ourselves a bit of justice by getting back into it before the half was up. We needed to come out in the second half and build on that. Mary didn’t have a save to make in the second half, but we weren’t ruthless enough at the other end.”
Full-time: Everton Ladies 2-1 Reading FC Women
Everton Ladies: Durack, Boye-Hlorkah, Brougham, George, Worm, James, Finnigan, Kelly (Green 90), Chance, Turner, Sweetman-Kirk.
Unused subs: Levell, Munsterman, Bryson, Hinds.
Reading FC Women: Earps, Rowe, Pearce, Potter, Green, Furness, Williams, Allen, Harding (Linnett 62), Chaplen, Bruton (Moore 71).
Unused subs: Fletcher, Moloney, Gane.