Two first half goals from Ella Toone and Christen Press gave Man United a 2-0 win at Merseyside, bringing them back level on points with league leaders Chelsea.
Manchester 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
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
Casey Stoney made just two changes to her side from the team that faced Birmingham last week. Kirsty Smith and Christen Press started in place Martha Harris and Lauren James. James did make an appearance in the 81st minute, substituted in for Leah Galton.
The match started quite evenly with both teams fighting for dominance in the midfield, but Toone quickly put United ahead. She capitalised on a loose ball in the box and fired in a goal after Everton keeper Sandy MacIver failed to clear a cross in by Galton.
MacIver had a busy opening 10 minutes, saving attempts from Press and Galton before United took the lead. Everton’s defence struggled to contain Press, who came close with a strike that forced MacIver to make a reflexive save. Moments later MacIver had to come out and claim the ball before Press could get a clear shot on goal.
After conceding early, Everton looked happy to keep possession of the ball but didn’t create any real chances with it.
United were clearly the more dangerous team with Press threatening to break and double her team’s lead. Toone could’ve doubled her own tally on the 35th minute, firing a shot that would’ve been an amazing goal if MacIver hadn’t made an even better save.
United’s dominating performance paid off when Press finally got her goal, courtesy of a Toffees defensive error. A weak clearance saw the ball land at Hayley Ladd’s feet on the edge of the box. Receiving the pass from Ladd, Press fended off Danielle Turner and slotted the ball past the keeper to double her team’s lead.
Everton came into the second half firing, producing saves from Mary Earps, who had a relatively quiet first half. The hosts put on a dominant show, with Turner’s 58-minute effort blocked by the United defence.
As in the first half, Everton maintained possession but nothing came of it mainly because of United’s defence. Amy Turner and Millie Turner both had fantastic performances, with Ladd blocking them from Everton’s attack. The Toffees had a total of 3 shots on target the entire match.
The hosts mounted the pressure in the dying minutes of the match but by then it was too late. United’s defence easily fended off pressure, and it was a quiet, comfortable victory for Stoney’s team.
Man United put up a strong, defensively solid performance, with Toone’s early goal setting the tone and the second goal from Press ensuring that they came away deserving of the three points. The win helps United keep pressure on the league leaders Chelsea who still have a game in hand. The team will be missing Tobin Heath going into the next few matches, who’s been ruled out for 10-12 weeks with an injury. Her presence will undoubtedly be missed as the Women’s team look to remain title contenders going into their next match against Reading.