The sun shone on a lovely day in London as Tottenham Hotspur Women hosted Everton Women at The Hive in Edgware. The match didn’t turn out to be as positive as the weather for Tottenham, however. Tottenham were victims of two harsh penalty calls by the match official, but roared back to level the score from a 2-0 deficit. Unfortunately, they couldn’t keep Everton out and ultimately fell to the Toffees, 3-2.
The biggest change to Tottenham’s last lineup was a debut for 18-year old Spurs defender Esther Morgan, who came into the team at right back for the injured Ashleigh Neville at the expense of striker Rianna Dean. Rosella Ayane also came in, and Gemma Davison was a last-minute change for Cho So-hyun. Rachel Williams, Hannah Godfrey, Ashleigh Neville, and first choice keeper Becky Spencer all missed the match with injury.
With Dean on the bench, Rosella Ayane, who normally plays as a wide attacking midfielder, started at striker with Kit Graham and Angela Addison playing behind. Addison looked bright from the opening kick, firing a ball over the bar within 90 seconds of kick-off and used her speed to earn another corner within three minutes.
Everton were gifted a penalty after just six minutes. The Toffees’ Sorensen put in a cross to Clair Emslie, who tried to head the ball back across the face of goal. The ball caromed off the shoulder of Spurs’ Kerys Harrop, who had arms in a natural position and could do little about it, but the official whistled for the penalty. Valerie Gauvin converted the spot kick past Aurora Mikalsen and Everton led 1-0.
Unfortunately, ten minutes later Harrop was involved with another penalty on an Everton corner kick in the 16th minute, when the official adjudged that she had held her opponent in the box. Replay of the infraction seemed to show that the contact was pretty soft, but protestations from the Abbie McManus did not sway the official. Harrop was shown a yellow card and Gauvin converted the second penalty to put the Toffees up 2-0. It was Spurs’ 6th conceded penalty of the season, a new WSL record.
Spurs had a chance to get one back after a half hour when Kit Graham fired a lovely ball into the box at the feet of Alanna Kennedy. Everton keeper Sandy MacIver went down and scrambled it away before Kennedy could get her foot through the ball.
Tottenham did get one back before halftime. Some high pressure from Ria Percival forced a turnover, and Kit Graham launched a long pass from near the center circle towards an onside Addison. Angela let the ball bounce and then dinked it over MacIver and into the net, a nifty bit of skill!
Both clubs had chances going forward in the latter stages of the half; Graham connected with Addison again for Spurs but the diminutive forward couldn’t get a shot off, and later Everton’s Emslie made a lovely run with the ball but McManus did well to stay in front of her and negate the chance. Mikalsen made a decent save at the near post as well off of an Everton shot, and Ayane also found herself one on one with MacIver, but fired her shot wide of the post.
Plenty of action, but the first half ended with the score 2-1 to Everton.
Everton made two halftime subs, bringing on Maeva Clemeron for Abbey-Leigh Stringer, a like-for-like replacement, and Gabby George for Megan Finnegan. No changes for Spurs.
Under Rehanne Skinner, Spurs have certainly looked less disjointed in attack than they did earlier in the season, and the opening minutes of the second half featured Graham and Addison again linking up well.
However, it was Gemma Davison who got Spurs’ equalizing goal in the 56th minute. Davison received the ball behind the halfway line, dribbled past several Everton players, had a pass deflect of an Everton player and back to her, and fired a low ball past MacIver to put Spurs level.
Spurs’ comeback lasted all of four minutes. Off of a corner, England international Jill Scott got a header on target that went off the foot of Mikalsen and in to put the Toffees back up 3-2. It was a decent header, but Mikalsen probably should’ve done better with the chance.
Spurs made their first substitution just afterwards, with Jessica Naz, who signed a new contract with the club last week, coming on for Davison.
Despite a lot of industry, Spurs had a hard time turning that into decent chances on goal. Everton seemed content to try and protect their lead and hit on the counter; Izzy Christiansen nearly added another goal for Everton but somehow fired her streaking counterattack shot wide of the left post in the 69th minute.
Spurs made another double sub in the 74th minute — Addison made way for striker Rianna Dean and Lucy Quinn for Rosella Ayane, as Spurs hoped to once again level the score. Just after, Everton’s Raso made a thumping shot that forced an excellent diving save from Mikalsen.
Spurs lost a bit of spark after Ayane and Addison left the pitch and while they were able to keep Everton from really mounting much going forward, they also looked a little static in attack themselves in the waning minutes of the match.
Spurs were forced into a late change in extra time as Jessica Naz was subbed off with what looked like a hand or wrist injury, unfortunate as she was a late substitute herself and is just back from a long-term injury. She was replaced by Chloe Peplow, who barely featured before the final whistle blew.
The final score was 2-3 to Everton.
The full highlights can be viewed at The FA Player.
- On balance, both of these teams played each other even, so it’s kinda distressing that both of Everton’s penalties were soft. Spurs should feel aggrieved that they were both called. Harrop couldn’t do anything to prevent Emslie’s header from two feet away, and I didn’t see much wrong with her jostling in the box off the corner.
- All of Everton’s goals were either penalties or dumb goals, while both of Spurs’ goals were dope. Ipso facto, Spurs are better and got football’d, don’t @ me.
- There continues to be a pretty big drop-off between Becky Spencer and Aurora Mikalsen. Spurs’ defense has tended to be a little porous this season, but Mikalsen has frequently found herself flat footed or out of position in scoring opportunities. And she should’ve done way better on Everton’s winner, though she made a couple of excellent stops in the second half.
- Angela Addison is probably the closest analogue to Lucas Moura — great close control and some blazing speed despite her diminutive stature. She played great today, and her goal was pretty fantastic. She and Kit Graham seemed to have an almost Kane & Son like understanding at times.
- Abbie McManus is an England international defender and has really added a core of steel to Spurs’ back line.
- New girl Esther Morgan didn’t appear to be tasked with too much ball progression and stayed mostly in her defensive lane, but she had a decent debut performance at right back.
- The loss puts spurs into 8th place with 12 points, but they have two points in hand. Right now, a top six finish should be considered an achievement.