Recovering well from a bruising loss on Thursday, Everton came out revitalised against Chelsea, steely in defence to restrict the champions to shots from range. Having been run close by Everton both times they met last season, Chelsea continued to look like they’d need a touch of luck to dig out another tight win.
Cancelling each other out for the most part, the best chance of the first half hour fell to Jonna Andersson who whipped a deep free kick in, drawing a respectable save from Kirsty Levell. Levell was alert again five minutes before the break when Drew Spence was found six yards out by Andersson, the play pulled back for a foul on Gabby George as Spence tried to bring the ball under control before striking.
Nibbling the ball off Georgia Brougham, Ramona Bachmann dashed forward, breaking into the box before getting a low shot off. The effort saved but marking an increase in tempo from the visitors.
The resurgent start to the second half seemed only temporary as Everton grew in confidence, pressing up against the visiting team. A deft shot from Inessa Kaagman left Carly Telford scrambling backwards as the ball fumbled off of her gloves and towards the goal. Falling backwards into the net, the goalkeeper clawed the ball out as it hovered on the line. Not looking completely assured in goal, Telford came up trumps to deny Simone Magill as the Blue Girls got forward once more.
Looking for inspiration
Looking decidedly off of the pace again, Emma Hayes went to her bench for the second time in the match, making a double-change to use up her compliment of substitutions, hoping for inspiration. The match immediately halted as Hannah Cain went down injured, needing five minutes of treatment before being stretchered off.
When play resumed, the match remained bitty, the champions unable to find any rhythm with Everton just lacking the quality to make their attacks count.
An overload in the home box saw Levell called on to make another save when Andersson let a low shot fly, the number one unchallenged as she spilled the ball and fast grabbed it. Despite the general lack of quality, Telford was called upon moments later to divert Kaagman’s free kick wide.
The half-chances continued to flow with Adelina Engman next to try her luck, her shot from range skimming just over the bar as both benches held their breath. A lack of communication at the other end giving Taylor Hinds an in as she muscled between Maren Mjelde and Engman to nip the ball away and square it for Magill. Needing to take her shot first time, Magill held onto it, taking too many touches, inviting Magda Eriksson to block her eventual effort.
With their last two league clashes decided by defenders, Chelsea very nearly kept the streak going five minutes from time when Mjelde’s whipped free kick was met by Millie Bright at the back post. The rising header from the centre back, a long way from her best, the Blues’ afternoon rather summed up as it arced high over the bar.
As the home players began to overcommit, showing their fatigue from having little in the way of depth and having played on Thursday, Everton were almost caught out in the 89 minute. Played in by a tireless Spence, Fran Kirby found herself in space in the box, her shot from 11-yards sent just wide, the match refusing to yield a goal.
With a lengthy seven minutes of stoppage time to find a break-through, Chelsea managed to carve out another handful of half-chances both from open play and the pair of corners they had. However, it wasn’t to be for Chelsea, their third clean sheet on the bounce simultaneously their third match without scoring. The point a hard-fought one for Andy Spence’s young Everton team.