Everton manager Willie Kirk was left ruing “stupid” dropped points as his side missed out on the chance to overtake Manchester United in their race to be best of the rest in the Women’s Super League.
Chloe Kelly hit her ninth goal in 11 starts out wide for Everton and was joined on the scoresheet by Dutch forward Inessa Kaagman. However a header from substitute Angela Addison and a stunning long-range free-kick from Arsenal loanee Emma Mitchell with 12 minutes remaining – just after the home side had seen Rosella Ayane sent off – earned Spurs a point against the Merseysiders.
“It’s just stupid points we dropped tonight and stupid points we dropped on Sunday against Brighton,” Kirk said. “It’s frustrating, but it’s where we are as a team. We’ve got loads and loads of potential and so many things to improve on and one of those is killing games off.”
Kelly, the 22-year-old forward, has thrived since shaking off an ankle injury that sidelined her for much of last season. Only Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema, Chelsea forward Beth England and Manchester City’s Pauline Bremer have more goals this term.
Everton’s manager thinks she could be in the running for England duty next month. “I’m sure Phil [Neville] is thinking of her for SheBelieves,” said Kirk. “It may be too early for her but that we can even say that shows how well she’s done.”
However there was concern when Kelly left the pitch limping after a heavy challenge. Kirk said: “She’s taken a knock on the ankle that was operated on last year so we’ll get it scanned in 24-28 hours to check everything’s still in place because she’s got screws and stuff in there.”
On the torn-up pitch at the Hive Everton were well-drilled early on. Within two minutes Kelly sounded a warning when set free through the middle, but goalkeeper Becky Spencer read the move well and was clipped by the forward as she smothered the ball inches ahead of her.
Everton poured forward time and time again and – with Tottenham rickety at the back – it was inevitable that they would make the breakthrough. When Kaagman was gifted the ball inside the box just past the half-hour mark she popped it back to Kelly on the edge of the area, with the forward sweeping a low left-footed shot into the corner.
It would be a similar mistake 12 minutes into the second half that would allow the visitors to double their lead. Simone Magill was the beneficiary this time, playing the ball to Kaagman who hit a left-footed shot into the bottom right of the goal.
Spurs’ co-manager Juan Amoros said: “I think we created our own problem a little bit and it’s something we will address but we want to be brave and play out from the back and we won’t change that.”
Thereafter the visitors were wasteful and, when substitute Addison headed in from Ria Percival’s cross, Tottenham heads rose. With the advantage having swung in Spurs’ favour a now familiar long-distance effort from Mitchell, after Ayane was sent off for dissent, earned them a point.
“This is exactly why I came here,” said Mitchell. “To get 90 minutes week in, week out and rebuild my confidence. This time last year I wouldn’t have had the confidence to take a free-kick never mind score one.”
Elsewhere, Manchester City maintained their lead at the top of the table with an efficient 1-0 win over Bristol City. Chelsea also piled the pressure on Arsenal, who play Liverpool at Chester’s Deva Stadium on Thursday night, after Guro Reiten and Beth England earned a 2-0 win over Birmingham. Reading, meanwhile, leapfrogged both Manchester United and Everton (albeit having played a game more than both) with a 2-0 win against a struggling West Ham after United drew 1-1 with Brighton.