From Leigh Sports Village – Manchester United dropped points in the WSL for just the third time this season after being held to a frustrating 0-0 draw by Everton.
The Red Devils, who will now see Chelsea go back above them at the top of the table, probably did enough to win on balance but saw a number of chances go begging throughout the game. Everton also deserve credit for hanging on and keeping a clean sheet against a side they have conceded seven against already this season.
Marc Skinner’s side have made a habit of starting home games fast this season, particularly at Leigh. Yet Everton threatened to make it interesting right from the off when a flicked header from defender Rikke Sevecke was a little too close for comfort, missing the far post.
That moment seemed to give United a splash in the face. Although Everton continued to work hard, half chances were coming from the hosts. A tame Hayley Ladd shot and a deflected Leah Galton cross were both collected by Everton goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan.
In her first appearance since multiple world record bids from Arsenal were turned down, Alessia Russo was playing with energy and determination, clearly unfazed by the events of the last week.
United were still being kept at bay as half-time neared, although Ona Batlle’s just too high effort from the edge of the box after a short corner had Brosnan more than a little worried.
In a flurry of late chances, Lucia Garcia struck the bar after being played in on the right, while Ladd and Russo each had great opportunities that missed to the left and right respectively that would have given Brosnan no chance had they been on target.
United started the second half the way they finished the first and Ella Toone had struck the base of the post only moments after the restart after Galton cut in from the left and laid the ball off. Hannah Blundell should then have done much better in acres of space on the left with a shot on her stronger right foot that went straight at the grateful Brosnan.
Having seen a number of United shots miss the target, Brosnan reacted instinctively to somehow keep out a Katie Zelem volley from the centre of the penalty. Moments later, Ladd couldn’t set her feet and a poor shot squirmed over the bar as Galton knocked it to her in space 10 yards out.
One of Everton’s first clear sights of goal since the early stages came with under 20 minutes left to play as Batlle’s miscued back-pass gave Jess Park the chance to round Mary Earps, but the Toffees winger couldn’t find the target from a narrow angle.
United continued to probe until the end but Brosnan’s goal remained un-breached.
GK: Mary Earps – 6/10 – Didn’t have a lot to do for a long time.
RB: Ona Batlle – 6/10 – Had to initially keep a close eye on Park over her shoulder but still got forward at every opportunity and forced Everton to switch things up.
CB: Maya Le Tissier – 6/10 – Lost a couple of 50/50 balls but won most of her tackles.
CB: Millie Turner – 6/10 – Made a few important clearances that prevented more dangerous situations.
LB: Hannah Blundell – 5/10 – Spent a lot of time in Everton’s half. Put a shot from an incredible position straight at Brosnan in the second half.
CM: Katie Zelem (c) – 6/10 – Denied by a top Brosnan save in the second half. Appeared to be getting frustrated with the movement of her teammates as United chased a goal.
CM: Hayley Ladd – 5/10 – Heavily involved in winning the ball back and springing attacks. Guilty of squandering a few good chances to score.
AM Ella Toone – 5/10 – Probably not as involved as she would have liked in the first half, before striking the post early in the second. Moved wide later on.
RW: Lucia Garcia – 6/10 – Hit the crossbar in the first half when she probably should have scored. Direct running did cause problems but Everton just about managed her.
ST: Alessia Russo – 7/10 – Played with her usual intensity, pressuring Everton defenders and moving all over looking for the ball. Did everything but score.
LW: Leah Galton – 6/10 – Ran in behind Everton full-back Finnigan a few times and became more involved as the game progressed. Managed 67 minutes after injury.
SUB: Nikita Parris (67′ for Galton) – 6/10
SUB: Rachel Williams (77′ for Garcia) – 7/10
Marc Skinner – 6/10 – Largely resisted making changes because his team were creating chances.
GK: Courtney Brosnan – 6/10 – Tested less than she would have expected.
RB: Megan Finnigan – 5/10 – Beaten for pace by Galton more than once and was withdrawn relatively early in the seond half.
CB: Nathalie Bjorn – 8/10 – Repelled everything that came her way.
CB: Rikke Sevecke – 8/10 – Narrowly missed an early header that could have made it a very different game. Impressive display overall.
LB: Gabby George (c) – 8/10 – Had to face a lot of different challenges defensively and cme through it. Didn’t have a lot of the ball but created one of Everton’s few chances.
RM: Nicoline Sorensen – 5/10 – Swapped to the left during the first half and had to do a lot of defending against Batlle, before going back to the right. Didn’t have a lot of the ball herself.
CM: Karen Holmgaard – 7/10 – Often showed great positional awareness to drop into the back four when needed. Covered plenty of ground and all-action.
CM: Aurora Galli – 6/10 – Kept good shape, although struggled to get invovled with the ball.
LM: Jess Park – 6/10 – Looked like she could be a threat when running in space but it didn’t happen enough to make much of an impact overall. Swpped between left and right multiple times.
ST: Katja Snoeijs – 5/10 – Had to chase a lot of lost causes.
ST: Aggie Beever-Jones – 5/10 – Worked tirelessly for not much gain.
SUB: Clare Wheeler (56′ for Galli) – 7/10
SUB: Lucy Hope (56′ for Finnigan) – 6/10
SUB: Hanna Bennison (56′ for Sorensen) -6/10
SUB: Izzy Christiansen (67′ for Holmgaard) – 7/10
SUB: Elise Stenevik (86′ for Snoeijs) – N/A
Brian Sorensen – 7/10 – Made changes in certain areas just as it looked like United were starting to exploit them. Took advantage of being able to use five subs, although the result probably still rested on the hosts missing chances.
Player of the match – Nathalie Bjorn (Everton)
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