A sell-out crowd at Everton’s new ground Walton Hall Park ended in a 3-2 defeat against Manchester United but they showed character in a spirited fightback.

Everton manager Willie Kirk was happy with the performance of his players and the new ground. He said: “The occasion was fantastic – it’s home. We’re looking forward to making it comfortable for us and making it uncomfortable for opponents. Unfortunately, we just fell short today.”

United’s Leah Galton put the Reds ahead half way through the first half and then eight minutes later grabbed her second of the game as she brought down Jess Sigsworth’s lofted pass to fire a low effort into the bottom-right corner. In a lacklustre half from the Toffees, they only created one real chance just before the break but thanks to brave defending from United’s Jessica Sigsworth, it stayed 2-0.

15 minutes into the second period, United seemed to have put the game to bed when Ella Toone tapped in from close range. However, Everton staged a late comeback and did not take the defeat lying down four minutes after United’s third they pulled one back after the goalkeeper Earps misjudged the flight of the ball from Chloe Kelly’s in-swinging corner, allowing Danielle Turner to head the ball into an empty net.

Everton were not done there, as seven minutes from time Lucy Graham’s cross went over the goalkeeper going in off the inside of the post. Everton huffed and puffed for an equaliser and looked the better team in the last ten minutes, but it was all too little too late as United held on for their first win in three.

The defeat leaves Everton in seventh place as United rise up to fourth. Next up for the Blues is Chelsea in the Women’s FA Cup in a few weeks’ time.