Brighton managed at the Broadfield Stadium what they couldn’t in Romford and held on for a big three points that extended the gap between them and Liverpool and Bristol City to six points.
Brighton's fast start
Two late West Ham goals sunk the Seagulls two weeks ago but this time round Aileen Whelan’s fourth of the season would prove to be enough.
It was a crucial game for Brighton with Liverpool’s game being called off leaving the Reds with two games in hand, and they came flying out the traps.
The first minute chance created for Amanda Nilden was a sign of things to come- quick passing forward from Brighton found Nilden in acres of space and it was Everton’s good fortune that her effort was straight at Sandy MacIver.
Seagulls win the midfield battle
Everton, throughout the rest of the half, were repeatedly exposed when Brighton regained possession- which they often did quickly in midfield as the visitors looked sloppy and sluggish.
On ten minutes, Dani Bowman won the ball in midfield and Kayleigh Green broke down the left and got to the byline- Ini Umotong perhaps should have scored with her near post flick but it was another warning for the Toffees.
They clearly didn’t heed it, as three minutes later Nilden won the ball, feeding Bowman whose low cross nearly picked out Umotong and had to be put behind for a corner.
Brighton compact, Everton open and exposed
The only surprise from the first half is that there weren’t more goals for Brighton. When one did come, it highlighted the difference between the two sides- Whelan had far too much time and space in the box and was able to turn and finish from Nilden’s cross.
In contrast, Everton created little. Brighton were compact and organised and, even though they improved after the break, as was the case in the first half Everton were toothless. They kept possession better and forced Brighton to defence the edge of the box but didn’t move the ball quickly enough, and Walsh in the Brighton goal had little to do.
Everton’s best chance didn’t come until the last 15 minutes when a long ball released substitute Hannah Cain whose fierce shot from the angle was straight at Walsh. Seconds later, Chantelle Boye-Hlokkah saw an effort from close range deflected wide by Kirsty Barton.
That really was as good as it got for the Toffees. What was noticeable was how little involvement Chloe Kelly saw. The forward had eight goals in nine before this game but was isolated on first the right wing and then the left, and saw little of the ball.
One passage of play that summed up how her game went was the number 11 ending up in the right back position as Everton looked to mount an attack just before Brighton scored. Instead the Toffees’ best threat was Boye-Hlokkah- anything good they did manage was through her and she caused the Brighton defence some concern in the first half with her direct running.