By Lewis Gibson
Lucy Graham scored twice – including a sublime 20-yard screamer – as Everton continued their winning start to the WSL with a 3-1 victory against West Ham United at Walton Hall Park.
The Blues skipper came off the bench to turn the contest in the hosts’ favour, smashing home from long range on 71 minutes before making the points safe in injury-time as Willie Kirk’s side made it four wins from four in the league.
Eight minutes was all it took for Everton to break the deadlock as their fantastic start to the season – which also includes an FA Cup final against Manchester City on Sunday 1 November – continued.
Claire Emslie found Nicoline Sorensen unmarked at the back post and the forward slotted home neatly into the bottom corner.
Emslie continued to cause the Hammers defence problems, first finding Valerie Gauvin who poked just wide, then picking out Izzy Christiansen whose looping header was saved well by Mackenzie Arnold.
The Hammers responded well, though, and in the 24th minute grabbed their equaliser. Kenza Dali found space unmarked on the edge on the box and fired low into the bottom corner.
West Ham continued to put the pressure on, Adriana Leon danced through the Blues defence before forcing a last-minute block from Abbey-Leigh Stringer.
Then came Rachel Daly’s cross-shot which was saved well by Sandy MacIver.
The last chance of the half again came through Emslie as she found space in behind but poked her effort straight against the onrushing keeper.
It wasn’t until the 60th minute that the next chance came. A low shot from Daly was parried by MacIver and Leanne Kiernan was just inches away from giving West Ham the lead.
Gauvin managed to find the back of the net soon after but was adjudged to be in an offside position.
Just minutes later, West Ham finally succumbed to the Everton pressure, the ball fell nicely to substitute Graham 25-yards out from goal and she curled the ball spectacularly into the top left corner.
A period of Hammers pressure followed, but it was dealt with well by Everton who showed why they have conceded only one goal in four WSL matches.
The game was finally put to bed in the 91st minute when Graham found herself unmarked at the back post. She lashed the ball home for her fourth WSL goal of the season.
Everton will be looking to make it five wins out of five next week, when they are back in action against Brighton & Hove Albion at Walton Hall Park.