LADIES REPORT: EVERTON 2 CHELSEA 1
Two long-range efforts were enough for Everton Ladies to take three points from an entertaining clash at Marine FC.
The visitors began brightly, creating the first chance of the game within the opening seconds of the match. After forcing a first-minute corner, Claire Rafferty's delivery was met by the head of Gemma Bonner, whose towering effort narrowly cleared the crossbar.
At the other end, the hosts created an identical opening six minutes later, as Natasha Dowie rose to head narrowly over the bar.
In a keenly contested opening to the match, the two teams continued to trade goal-scoring opportunities. First, some neat play on the edge of the Everton penalty area saw Adriana lay off for Helen Bleazard, whose low strike was held well be Rachel Brown, before Chelsea 'keeper Carly Telford was called upon to deny Dowie.
As the first-half reached its midway point, Chelsea withstood a spell of Everton pressure, with Kylie Davies and Gemma Bonner both making crucial interventions as the hosts looked to press for an opener.
Having weathered the storm, the visitors looked to turn the momentum back in their favour with a string of attacking moves. Some neat link-up play between Helen Lander and Dunia Susi saw the right-back advancing down the flank, cutting inside before testing Rachel Brown with a low drive.
With half-time approaching, Everton wasted the best chance of the half. When Dowie was brought down by Davies in the Chelsea penalty area, referee Craig Buxton pointed to the spot. Fara Williams stepped up to take the spot-kick, only for Telford to dive low to her right to keep the scores level.
The hosts began the second-half in stunning fashion. Within seconds of the restart, Everton forward Toni Duggan fired in a spectacular 25-yard strike to give the Toffees the lead.
Finding themselves a goal behind early on in the half, Chelsea had to dig deep to stop the hosts from doubling their advantage. From an Everton corner, Dowie's near-post flick struck the frame of the goal, while Gwennan Harries forced a save from Telford with long-range effort.
As the momentum of the match again swung back into the Blues' favour, Everton's substitute goalkeeper, Danielle Hill, made two excellent saves in quick succession - first denying Sophie Perry before a superb, point-blank save from Adriana.
With six minutes remaining, Everton sealed the win as Harries again fired an effort from distance. This time her low effort evaded Telford to find the bottom corner.
The Blues halved the deficit in injury time. When Kate Longhurst was denied by the woodwork, Adriana pounced to slot home Chelsea's consolation goal, her first for the club. Despite the late rally, Everton held on to take all three points.
After a second successive defeat, Chelsea manager Emma Hayes was eager to look beyond current results. Just three matches into her tenure, the Blues boss was encouraged by the progress made by her new side.
'We've made changes to the playing style and mistakes happen due to those changes,' explained Hayes. 'I think we're starting to see some of that attacking play develop further, we're disappointed to give up goals but I feel we're giving up goals as a result of trying to implement these changes.'
Chelsea Ladies' campaign continues with a trip to Bristol Academy in the Blues' penultimate fixture of the season on September 22.
Chelsea (4-4-2): Carly Telford (c); Claire Rafferty, Gemma Bonner, Kylie Davies, Dunia Susi; Sophie Ingle (Kate Longhurst 54), Dani Buet, Laura Coombs (Drew Spence 75), Helen Bleazard (Sophie Perry 75); Helen Lander, Adriana.
Unused sub Lara Fay.
By Daniel Clarke