Bristol take spoils in Promotion shootout against Everton

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Everton Ladies   2 – 3  Bristol City Women

Bristol City Women sealed their place in next years WSL (Women’s Super League) with a 3-2 win over Everton Ladies in a cracking top of the table clash this past Saturday at the Select Security Stadium in Widnes. The game was billed effectively as a winner-takes-all match, with whoever won the game would pretty much be being promoted to the elite of English Women’s football.

Prior to the teams walking out onto the pitch for the game, it saw a lovely touch by the Merseyside club in which the younger sister of Zoe Tynan who tragically died during the year, saw her sister playing a version of Everton’s famous theme ‘Z-Cars’ on saxophone along with her music teacher and was an emotional moment for all in attendance.

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Once the match was off and running, it saw the home side starting the brighter of the two, but Everton just weren’t able to transfer their play into anything that meaningful in the way of a goal scoring opportunity. The ‘Toffees’ duo of Claudia Walker and Rosella Ayane, saw them two putting the Bristol defence under pressure and causing their opponents plenty of problems in the half. For the visitors, they spent the opening ten minutes of the contest trying to just contain the ‘Blue Girls’ and did a good job in limiting the chances that the home side could muster. Bristol’s first attack brought them a corner and twas completed wasted when the kick hit the side netting.

Krystal Johnston was making a couple of attacking runs down the Vixens left hand side and so when the former Manchester City player was trying to run onto a lovely weighted ball behind the defence, it saw Rosella Ayane who was stood offside then touching the ball and had Johnston fuming at her teammate for not leaving, so had a possible chance go begging. Ayane then nearly redeemed herself minutes later, when the striker on-loan from Chelsea Ladies, saw her free-kick floated in and almost caught out the goalkeeper from 40 yards out with the ball just dipping over the bar.

Bristol began to get some good attacks going their way and needed the Everton defence to be alert to their opponents threats in the game and stop them from getting too much into the contest. The hosts nearly opening the scoring with Rosella Ayane again at the heart of the attack, as this time the ‘Toffees’ captain Michelle Hinnigan played a ball up to Ayane and saw her shot being palmed away at the near post by Caitlin Leach in the City goals for a corner. With the home side on top and just not able to make the most of their possession count, it typically saw the visitors taking the lead on 26 minutes through a swerving Claire Emslie goal. It saw the shot swerving horribly for Kirstie Levell in the Everton goals, with the sudden change of movement causing the problem.

Four minutes later and Everton had a chance to get back on level terms, when the referee pointed to the penalty spot after a moment of confusion that saw neither side sure of what the official was giving and then had referee signalling a shirt pull from a Bristol player in the box and gave them the penalty. Claudia Walker then stepped up to take the spot kick for the hosts and put it to the keepers bottom left hand corner to square the match up at 1-1 on the half hour mark. Leach was then forced into another save for the Vixens soon after, when Dan Turner saw her free kick well saved by the Bristol keeper and was cleared from danger.

Walker then saw her dipping volley from the edge of the area going just over the bar and saw Leach breathing a sigh of relief. Vicky Jones then became the saviour for the home side prior to half time, when the defender dashed back in time to clear an effort off the line from a shot that looked to be going in after the keeper was caught in no man’s land. As the half time whistle blew, it saw both managers happy with their teams efforts after the opening half of the game and was still anyone’s for the taking.

With the second half underway, it was noticeable that the game had become more open and that allowed the skillful players to create some magic and see the game become stretched a bit. Everton came out looking a bit shaky in defence and saw their passes getting cut out by the away side far too much for the Evertonian’s in attendence. Bristol then put the hosts under a lot of pressure early on in the second half, and that led to panic in the ranks amongst the home side and found them not able to play like they were doing in the first half.

Everton were finding it very difficult to try and create anything in the way of attacking play, with Bristol pressing them hard and forcing the home side in trouble. Everton were becoming very susceptible to errors in the game and so it proved to be their downfall. It then became a bigger problem when a poorly under-hit back pass was collected by Millie Farrow, and saw the Vixen striker running unchallenged into the are and stroked it past Levell to restore the visitors lead after 52 minutes gone. Bristol pushed hard for a third and saw the Everton keeper making a couple of stunning saves to keep Ellie Wilson off the score sheet with two brilliant stops.

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Krystal Johnston then found herself in a great position to level the game, but the midfielder could only skew her shot wide of the goal and had it going out for a throw-in instead. New blood was need by the home side and saw Everton boss Andy Spence bringing on Northern Ireland International Simone Magill for Millie Turner with more than twenty-minutes of play left to go. Everton yet again was able to get into some really dangerous area, but when a ball was put into the are it saw nobody near by to bury a chance. Michelle Hinnigan then went close to a goal for the home side with just over twenty minutes left to play, when she had a header off a Dan Turner cross going just inches past the post and you sensed a goal was forthcoming

However that goal came for the away side as Claire Emslie looked to have struck the killer blow in the game on 69 minutes, when the striker scored from distance and saw her effort flying past the despairing reach of Kirstie Levell to make it a 3-1 game. The visitors had the home side on the rack and looked like they could have scored a few more if they had made the most of their attacks that they had. The hosts looked down and out after that third goal they conceded and if this had been a boxing match then the referee would have stopped it, as Everton just failed to even get the ball out of their half on occasions and had the visitors in the ascendency.

Andy Spence then made his final two substitutions in the game, with Ellie Stewart and Jenna Dear both coming on for Vicky Jones and Krystal Johnston as the hosts pushed for a goal. Gabby George was then thrown up field to play as an extra attacker, and that brought new dimension to the Everton side after they had looked pretty poor going forward in the whole of second half.

George then forced her way into the penalty box, before launching a shot on goal that was spilt by Leach in the Bristol goal and saw some terrible defending by the visitors right near their goal line and led to Dan Turner credited with a goal, as the ball went into the back of the net with five minutes to go. Everton pushed players forward to try to score these two-goals that the Toffees needed to gain promotion and saw Ayane once again troubling Leach from long-range, but as time went on it seemed to be a case of ‘too little, too late’ as the minutes ticked by. However the home side were then awarded another penalty with two of the allocated five minutes gone in stoppage time for a high foot.

This time around Claudia Walker saw her penalty saved by Caitlin Leach, with goalkeeper becoming the hero for the visitors but in truth it was a pretty poorly struck penalty that was pushed on the post by the goalie. The hosts huffed and puffed their way to finding a third goal and at best claiming a draw, but it was too late and with the final whistle came the Bristol City players running onto the pitch to celebrate with their teammates as they celebrate their promotion back up in to the WSL. The result left Everton distraught and despite battling hard all the way to the end, it was just a case of coming up short in the match.

Their early play in the opening half of the second all but doomed the Blue Girls to defeat in all honesty, as their sloppiness and lapses in concentration allowed the visitors to score twice and from that point onwards they never looked like pulling it back in truth. Everton now need help from other sources, as Yeovil are the only team that the Toffees can catch for promotion and if ‘the Lady Glovers’ beat London Bees tomorrow afternoon then it will be all over for Everton and it will see the two West Country sides in the WSL 1 next year. 

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